The End of the Impossible

Willam Picture Making it to the Super Bowl is all about hard work. The athletes have spent their entire careers training for this event—and now hope that the right mix of talent, dedication, and luck will win them a ring. In their own way, companies advertising during the most important spot of the year face a similarly labor-intensive process that requires selecting the best agency, testing concepts, and hoping the ad appeals to consumers in a memorable and meaningful way. It takes time.

Time was something I did not have. But from the moment will.i.am of The Black Eyed Peas and I first talked about collaborating on an advertisement for the biggest Sunday in television, I knew it was something that we had to do. Combining the reach of the Super Bowl with the creative genius and vision of will.i.am would be a big win for salesforce.com -- and the perfect showcase for our new service Chatter.com. We couldn’t afford to fumble the opportunity.

So I called our chief marketing officer Kendall Collins and told him what I wanted to do. “Next year, right?” he asked. Not quite—this year’s game in 90 days, I said. “Impossible,” Kendall told me.  And I knew we had to do it. 

That’s because I knew we could pull it off. We live in an exciting time when the right technology redefines what’s possible. Last year I wrote about the Facebook Imperative describing the shift to the next phase of cloud computing, which I call Cloud 2. With Cloud 2, we’ve moved beyond making Internet applications that are easy to use, and progressed to a cloud computing model that’s inherently social (like Facebook), open and mobile – working on revolutionary devices like Apple’s iPad.  Chatter, which we released in June, is at the heart of our effort to bring Cloud 2 to the enterprise.

Already, more than 60,000 of our customers have deployed Chatter -- helping their employees come together in unexpected ways to share ideas, improve productivity and accomplish the impossible. I’ve never seen any product adopted this quickly in the enterprise.  But a growing number of companies that were not our customers have been telling us they want these social collaboration capabilities too. And so, we launched Chatter.com, opening it up to an entirely new audience of 65 million businesses worldwide. Now any employee can create a free, secure, private social network to help their company collaborate, innovate, and grow.

We had to tell this story. What better way than during the biggest advertising event of the year? But we had only three months to create content, tag lines, music, animation—all with teams who had never met. We had never even done a TV spot before -- let alone the mother of all spots.

New challenges require new approaches. And we didn’t want to take the traditional ad agency approach.  In this case, the agency was the artist. We worked with Dipdive, LLC – what will.i.am calls a social media lifestyle agency that has a totally revolutionary approach to content, brands, social media and art. And we decided to manage the entire creative process in Chatter – meshing, on the fly, each person’s distinctive approach to achieve the impossible .

Our corporate marketing team, will.i.am and Dipdive  used Chatter to brainstorm and surface the best ideas. We shared documents, scripts, compositions – all in the cloud. We rapidly iterated on everything: the tag line; our animated character Chatty, a helpful superhero cloud; and the awesome sound ID for Chatter.

The most powerful part: We did it all from different locations, using all kinds of devices. Teams were in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas, Tokyo and the UK. will.i.am approved things from his BlackBerry while in Paris. I did everything the same way I run my company—from my iPad. We were never in the same room, or even on a conference call. There were no email threads, no excuses for not getting documents. (As will.i.am said: “This is 2011, there’s no time for that!”) We cut a process that usually takes eight months down to 90 days. And, it was insanely fun. You can even watch a video on how we did it:

 

If we were able to do an ad for the Super Bowl in 90 days, imagine what we can achieve 10 years from now as we embrace and evolve this technology. When “impossible” loses its meaning, we strive for a whole new level of what’s possible.

With Chatter, anyone can do impossible things as a team.  I encourage you to check out Chatter, and experience ‘The End of Impossible.’