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Freshworks takes on Salesforce with a blimp and other out-of-home weapons

#Failsforce blimp flies over the Salesforce tower

Freshworks, a startup customer engagement software company, took on its biggest rival at Salesforce's massive annual conference in San Francisco, Dreamforce, and it used a blimp and other out-of-home (OOH) messages as weapons.

Freshworks took to the skies with a #Failsforce blimp that circled Salesforce Tower (the tallest building in San Francisco) all week long. It used other guerrilla tactics like taking to the streets with a marching band, and a complete 360 campaign called ‘Hit Refresh.’

The entire ‘gate-crashing’ campaign, blimp and all, was conceived in one of Funworks’ improv-inspired collaborative workshops.

“Funworks' workshop was the genesis of the whole campaign,” said Freshworks chief marketing officer David Thompson. “They take a really unique approach to ideation that departs from the typical "brainstorm" sessions that many creative agencies still rely on.”

Thompson went on to say that he found Funworks’ flexibility remarkable. “They took a refreshing creative approach that built awareness and consideration while elevating the brand’s position in the category. We faced a number of obstacles as we took this campaign from start to finish and I was impressed with Funworks’ ability to adjust on the fly and simply make everything come together in an organized, creative, and brilliant way.”

The campaign was designed to spread the message that now is the time for companies to replace their bloated SaaS CRM solutions with simple customer engagement software, ideally for them with Freshworks products.

“Salesforce is obviously a leader in the SaaS space. The “#failsforce” message in particular wasn’t directly aimed at the company, but rather at its failure to meet the needs of SMBs,” said Thompson. “We believe business software should be simple, affordable, and easy to use from the moment you purchase it. SMBs believe this too and the recent report we did with Forrester shows that almost 70% of SMBs are looking to replace their CRM systems. That has huge implications on the market.”

As a part of the campaign, Freshworks hosted a live press conference from the #Failsforce blimp with Freshworks customers who have switched from other CRMs.

The blimp was a success as news of its flight flooded social media, resulting in pictures and posts. A few highlights included a "Failsforceblimp" Twitter handle and blimp merch (tees, stickers, and mugs), all created by fans of the blimp with no ties to the campaign. There was even a marching band and street team.

The ‘Hit Refresh’ campaign included OOH (billboards, airport banners, bus wraps), digital ads, radio, and online video.

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