CYBRA Goes for i's Funny Bone with 2K, the 2,000 Year Old Programmer
Published: April 29, 2008
by Alex Woodie
As the chief executive officer of barcode and RFID software developer CYBRA, Harold Brand knows that enterprise software is no laughing matter. At the same time, the New Yorker is realizing that humor can be an effective advertising tool to break through the clutter and reach potential customers with his product. To that end, CYBRA today officially launched its new advertising campaign featuring 2K, the 2,000-year-old programmer.
Dedicated YouTube aficionados may have already seen one of the CYBRA videos featuring 2K, the wise-cracking, hip-hop dancing 2,000-year-old programmer, and Auto-ID, the young bearded dude with all the right answers to today's tough barcoding and RFID problems. If you haven't seen them yet, you can see all six episodes at www.youtube.com/cybratv or at www.markmagic.com (in case YouTube gets flooded with requests and goes down).
The series, which gains inspiration from Apple's popular "Mac versus PC" series and the old "2,000 Year Old Man" skit by Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner, pits 2K as the force of legacy against Auto-ID's power of modern programming and native System i barcode and RFID tag generation. Here's what 2K had to say when Auto-ID suggests that a graphical barcode design environment may be easier to use than direct green-screen programming:
"That's the problem these days," 2K says. "Nobody wants to do work hard. Everybody wants easy. In my days, we knew what heavy lifting was. I had to carry rocks to my cave in the office. We carried rocks to write on. We wrote our code with a hammer and a chisel. That's not software kid. That's hardware."
Such is the typical give-and-take between Auto-ID, played by one of the skit's producers, and 2K, played by an 80-year-old former high school principal from the Bronx who is working his first professional gig. Brand is keeping his fingers crossed that the videos "go viral" and take on a life of their own.
"If it takes off, it will prove our point that we believe people in the System i world have a sense of humor, and not only that, it will get them interested in our product, to get themq involved with CYBRA," he says. "In our gut, we feel it's right, but on the other hand, we don't believe it's proven yet because you don't see a lot of humor in the System i world."
Non-traditional marketing is gaining acceptance among companies with traditional products. Brand cited the tremendous success that Blendtec, a manufacturer of high-end blenders, had following the introduction on YouTube of its video series "Will It Blend?" which features the company's CEO attempting to blend everything from golf balls to an iPhone. Brand read about Blendtec's success last year in The Wall Street Journal, and figured CYBRA could try something similar.
"We were looking for a clever way to break through the clutter. People are just so inundated with advertising that they don't even see it anymore," Brand says. "We've reached the saturation part. People are just so bombarded with ads. They're just zoning out. That's why we had to try something different, something with humor."
If it does take off, it will most likely be attributable to 2K, the highly endearing, yet vertically challenged funny-man, who may resemble some (as yet un-mummified) RPG or COBOL coders in your shop.
"We loaded him up with as many clichés of things that old-time programmers would have," Brand says, "like the propeller hat and the buttons, the pocket protector, and a deck of 80-column cards. We couldn't find any 96-column cards from the System/3 days. He's got a five-and-a-quarter-inch floppy cable connector, just in case, and an eight-inch diskette, and sandals and white socks. Just all the stereotypes."
If CYBRA's new ads hit that magic combination of humor and low-budget appearance that's so popular with the kids these days, 2K may have to put aside his hammer and chisel for an acting career. "We're looking for the System i funny bone, and we're hoping we're going to find it and that it turns into business," Brand says. "But it's got to make money. And if it does, then there's more where that came from."
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