For B2B technology copywriters struggling to come up with new superlatives to describe successive generations of hardware and software, Oracle’s tie-up with this year’s Hollywood blockbuster must seem like a gift from the (Norse) gods.
“Yes, your data center is powerful. But is it powerful enough to protect the nations and peoples of Earth from all threats, terrestrial or extraterrestrial?”
That’s the opening sentence of a story from the May/June issue of Oracle Magazine, the company’s monthly publication for IT professionals. It goes on:
“Engineered for cloud computing, Oracle Exalogic hardware and software are tuned for Java application performance. S.H.I.E.L.D. agents use Oracle Exalogic to run S.H.I.E.L.D.’s day-to-day operations, enter mission and status reports, and run classified applications.”
In the B2C world, marketing copywriters get to write this kind of fun stuff all the time. Chocolate bars are frivolous purchases, so the promotional copy needs to be playful – and tie-ins with popular films and events are commonplace.
But in B2B technology, where the latest hardware appliance or cloud ERP system can cost into the millions of dollars, there’s a general feeling among marketers that the tone of the copy should reflect the seriousness of the decision to buy it.
But should it always? CIOs and techies are people as well as decision-makers, and probably bored to the back teeth with endless stuff about benchmark tests and ‘end-to-end solutions’. So the prospect of Oracle being the technology vendor of choice for Marvel’s superheroes is bound to come as a bit of light, attention-grabbing relief.
Why The Avengers?
But how does Oracle get permission to use The Avengers in its marketing campaigns? Is there more to it than just a lot of money changing hands for the right to sponsor a popular film franchise and use its characters and imagery?
Well, yes. Oracle’s relationship with the Marvel universe – of which The Avengers is the latest film incarnation – started with its sponsorship of 2010’s Iron Man 2. Product placement opportunities for vendors of back-end enterprise software come along very rarely, but as Iron Man 2 had cutting-edge technology as a huge component of its story, it made perfect sense for Oracle to feature. According to a Wall Street Journal MarketWatch article:
“In the movie, Oracle is a sponsor of a garden pavilion at the Stark Expo in Flushing Meadows, N.Y., the site of the 1939-1940 New York World’s Fair and its “world of tomorrow” theme. At one point in the movie, Stark uses Oracle’s database software as he quickly flips and pinches screens of a giant electronic touch screen in his laboratory perched on the coast in Malibu.”
Forbes , meanwhile, has suggested that Oracle CEO Larry Ellison was one of the inspirations for the movie version of Tony Stark, the business mogul alter ego of superhero – and Avengers team-member – Iron Man. And indeed Larry Ellison made a cameo appearance in Iron Man 2, helping to solidify the association between the Oracle brand and the Iron Man/Avengers franchise.
In The Avengers the Oracle references are still there, but far more technologically based. Variety notes that “Oracle powers Tony Stark’s computers,” though 3D technology makes it a little tricky to keep an eye out for servers when you watch the film itself.
From its side, Oracle has seized on the opportunity to spice up its marketing copy with references to awesome super power, and to enhance images of its gleaming silver boxes with the likenesses of Iron Man, Captain America, Tony Stark & co.
And because ‘super power’ is the uniting theme behind The Avengers and Oracle’s massive data-crunching hardware and software, the association works. Which must have been fun for Oracle’s brand marketers, and an unexpected bit of fun for its target audience, too.
Disclosure: Oracle is a client of Radix, although (sadly) we haven’t been involved in the Avengers campaign. The views expressed in this blog post are solely those of the author.