A Campaign Media Critique

I was just made aware of Oracle’s Iron Man 2 campaign page. Having been a part of the team that conceived of, and did most of the work on the original Iron Man campaign, I was interested to see how the relationship with Marvel was playing out.

Its great to see Oracle Marketing keep the Marvel partnership going (even though they had to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into the partnership in the first place).

Oracle IronMan Campaign Page

The first thing we see on the page is the branding message, followed by a lot of text. I wish there wasn’t so much text. The branding message is repeated in an edited version of the trailer that also appears on the page. To me, juxtaposing “Man. Machine. Hero.” against “Software. Hardware. Complete.” doesn’t have quite as nice a ring to it as the original slogan: “Hardware by Marvel. Software by Oracle.” I understand why they had to change it (to accommodate the company’s purchase of Sun Microsystems) but I wish the new slogan was a little more clever.

The Game

There is a “Master Cloud Operative” game on the page. The button launches a Flash interactive experience. The Flash content is very pretty, and its a great idea to key off the Stark Expo theme, and create a learning game. The initial startup looked great. The progress indicator, made out of a 3D arc reactor that you could move around was cool. The wide shot coming into the room was cool (with the people sitting at virtual consoles at the sides.) The big Exadata racks felt a little cheesy — why not arrange them in a more dignified pattern, like the machine room we made in Episode 1? But all is good because the thing overall looks pretty slick. Unfortunately, when we get to the video screen, the experience starts to break down, and the lack of depth and polish becomes distracting.

It doesn’t seem like much thought or care went into how the game itself imparts information, and what it teaches the participant. For example, there is little to no introductory information given, you have to ‘fail’ on one of the questions to reach a teachable moment. Many of the questions are “All of the above” — and easily guessable, so the opportunity for learning is lost. Think: What is Oracle’s unique contribution to the field of cloud computing? Did the presentation leave the participant with a solid sense of what Oracle can uniquely offer here?

OCO Game

Along another dimension, the MCO game was not a particularly pleasant gaming experience — I felt kind of like a trained monkey being led through the steps. Nor is it a great training experience — I managed to get through all the questions without being exposed to a single bit of training material.

And, where was the demo? Don’t we actually have an Enterprise Manager page that lets us control the cloud? Why not show that, instead of making me click on a bunch of fake stuff?

From a media perspective, a lot of the Flash elements were really nice looking, I especially liked the way the floating panels would tilt and track the mouse — gave it a very interactive feel. But there were also a number of really distracting elements. The actress is clearly reading from a teleprompter, which is super unnerving. The whole ‘cyber voice’ thing feels kind of unmotivated — is she human? Is she a robot? Why? In the future can we not afford a good audio and video feed? The script spends a lot of time on theme, but not much time actually imparting key marketing messages.

My Takeaways

For me, the moral is that its not enough for someone in marketing to come up with a cool idea, and throw it over the fence to a creative firm. You need a crack internal team fully engaged from beginning to end, skilled across multiple facets (product messaging, demonstrations, technical content, training, media production, creative management) to produce something that works on all levels. That’s the kind of capability that we had built up over the last few years.

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