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No more rockstars, say Billy Idol, Joan Jett in Workday Super Bowl ad

Blast 'corporate' types who are much more square than $5.14 billion HR corp

Workday tasked itself with the challenge of what to do if you’re the third or fourth vendor in the global market for enterprise-grade finance and HR software and came up with the answer: Super Bowl ads.

This weekend's US sports extravaganza will coincide with the launch of a less-than-targeted set of ads for the SaaS provider of payroll, HR and finance software – that is, unless the football-loving masses are secretly multi-million dollar tech budget holders. Who knows?

But we guess it's all about creating the right impression. And the impression Workday wants to create is one of being cool by deriding everyone else in the sector for being uncool.

The pitch goes like this: you know how people in businesses are calling themselves rockstar this and that? Like rockstar developer, or rockstar accountant or rockstar, erm, marketing executive? Well, everyone has cottoned on to how stupid that sounds and what a terrible metaphor it is - no organisation can function if it employs preening, petulant, figureheads.

Workday's plan is to act like we know how dumb it is to constantly talk of rockstars. By hiring a load of rockstars.

Like who?

Like Ozzy Osbourne, Billy Idol, Joan Jett, blues player Gary Clark and Paul Stanley of the rock band Kiss. Basically, anyone badass enough to promote a corporate for cash.

Do we have the budget? We've just laid off 525 workers from our product and technology organization, but I'm sure we can find the money in our $5.14 billion annual revenue.

"We know that using Workday for finance and HR makes you great at your job," says Stanley at one point during the fast-cut ad.

"But that don't make you a rockstar,” chips in Clark, butchering the English language along with any semblance of musical taste.

YouTube Video

Actually, El Reg is not even sure using software makes anyone good at their job.

What's more, the argument might not work the way Workday think it does. Lou Reed worked for an accounting firm – his dad's – in the brief period between the collapse of the Velvet Underground and his solo career gathering steam. Joy Division's Ian Curtis was a civil servant. Art Garfunkel was a maths teacher. Most famously, James Williamson of proto-punk legends The Stooges went on to become an electronic engineer, working as a designer for AMD and eventually being selected to receive ANSI's Ronald H. Brown Standards Leadership Award for his contributions to standards development. And don't forget our own Rupert Goodwins from MIDI band Mensana.

Workday's ad at least pays due, if unintended, homage to one great artist: comedian Bill Hicks, whose famous skit on marketing and advertising observed that chasing the "anti-marketing dollar" can be very good marketing. ®

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