GMO Reverses Testimonial Approach for Sybase

Scratchy voices of executives respond to a clearly intoned question asking if their computer systems can talk to one another and give them the information they need. The voices stutter and haplessly search for answers.
The disguised voices are actually those of Fortune 500 executives and are part of two 30-second TV spots kicking off Goldberg Moser O’Neill’s ad campaign for Sybase. Sources said billings are estimated at more than $10 million.
The ads promote Sybase’s enterprise portal product, a computer application that enables companies to unlock business applications and corporate data. The portals enable businesses to deliver information to computer users by a browser or other means.
Jim Noble, creative director at the San Francisco agency, said the spots, titled “Need” and “Talk,” are the result of some 200 interviews held with Fortune 500 executives. Executives knew they were being used for an ad campaign, he said, but did not know the questions in advance.
The spots–which feature a dark background and flash the phrase “Actual voice of a Fortune 500 executive” onscreen–use a software program that amplifies the voice or brain waves and translates them into lines and colors on the screen. When the questioning is complete, a voiceover says, “Sybase enterprise portals. Because you should know better.”
Noble said the spots are the opposite of typical testimonial ads, in which people talk about the virtues of a product or service. “We tried to attach a little bit of fear to this campaign while still making Sybase an approachable company that has a lot of smarts to it,” he said.
Print ads are also appearing, and radio spots are planned.
GMO posts roughly $500 million in annual billings.