By Kendra Barnett, Associate Editor

May 17, 2022 | 4 min read

In its first major brand campaign, B2B commerce platform Commercetools takes a shot at its biggest competitors, including Oracle, Salesforce and Adobe, branding these players as “naysayers” unfit to enable commerce innovation in a rapidly-evolving space.

In the first major campaign for cloud-based commerce platform Commercetools, Arrested Development actor Will Arnett personifies a legacy commerce platform that’s unwilling to adapt to modern demands – to the dismay and annoyance of an entire team. In a brainstorming meeting about rethinking commerce, Arnett interrupts constantly, mocks the concept of shoppable social, shoots down the idea of gaming app integration on the premise that he doesn’t want “a bunch of nerds buying our stuff” and rubs everyone the wrong way with his obstinacy.

It’s a playful way for Commercetools to poke fun at its bigger, older competitors including Salesforce, Oracle and Adobe, suggesting that its platform is better-poised to meet the needs of an evolving commerce landscape. The brand is on a mission to convince businesses that those big-name brands aren’t as modern as they’d have everyone think (Salesforce, for instance, poo-pooed the metaverse in its recent Super Bowl spot). Commercetools argues that its API, microservices, cloud infrastructure and headless-based tech set it apart as more modern and adaptable than these legacy providers – but more technologically advanced and customizable than Shopify.

“We hear all the time from our customers that their legacy platforms could never keep up with the ideas they had for creating the cutting-edge e-commerce experiences their own customers wanted, and that now, with the help of Commercetools, these experiences are a reality,” explains Jen Jones, the company’s chief marketing officer. “So when thinking through this campaign, the dichotomy of ‘no’ versus ‘yes’ really felt like it hit the mark with what we hear from our customers and what we’ve set out to accomplish with our technology.”

The global campaign, created in partnership with B2B agency Walker Sands, offers a contemporary, refreshing take on B2B messaging, which has historically been cold and straightforward. And it adds to a growing trend; with B2B ad spend set to pass $30bn by next year, brands in the space are increasingly investing in more traditionally B2C-style creative strategies and advertising on more consumer-facing channels. And many players are adopting a similar approach to Commercetools: Arnett joins a growing lineup of A-listers to head up B2B brand campaigns in recent months. The Super Bowl saw Zendaya front a Squarespace spot, DJ Khalid make a cameo in Intuit Quickbooks’ ad and Matthew McConaughey play a rhyming aeronaut in Salesforce’s campaign.

“The charge was to boldly differentiate the brand from its big-name competitors, so our creative approach did too,” says Ann Hagner, vice-president and creative director at Walker Sands. “We abandoned the B2B playbook, ditched technical jargon and tapped Will Arnett to play the jerk in the room, bringing both credibility to the brand and talk value to the campaign.”

Jones says she’s proud of the final product. “We knew that Will Arnett’s iconic voice and style of humor would create an ideal portrayal of ‘the naysayer,’ representing the dated e-commerce solutions that are holding brands back,” Jones says. “The final [spot] conveys that technology should be an enabler, not an inhibitor.”

“We know that B2B technology can be complex and dry, so our goal was to bring humor and lightheartedness to the message, which embodies our company culture as well,” she adds.

The new initiative debuts globally via video, digital, social and out-of-home (OOH) channels starting this week, with additional activations to roll out throughout the year. The campaign will also make appearances at major industry events around the world, including OMR 2022 in Hamburg, Shoptalk Europe in London and K5 in Berlin.

The effort could help drive new business for Munich-based Commercetools, which, currently valued at nearly $2bn, counts Ulta and Lululemon among its clients.

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