Week of October 16, 2000
  Snapshot from the Field

It's a Wrap: Sybase Encircles HQ with Huge Ad

By JACK LYNESite Selection Executive Editor of Interactive Publishing

Corporate real estate (CRE) is busily integrating with all manner of functions - HR, IT, finance, etc. Now, CRE is integrating with advertising - in fact, at Sybase it's all wrapped up in it (www.sybase.com).

In one of the first such uses of corporate work space, e-business software player Sybase recently unveiled a 6,000-sq.-ft. (540-sq.-m.) ad that wraps around its East San Francisco Bay headquarters in Emeryville, Calif.

Sybase headquarters

Each workday, 170,000 commuters pass by the Sybase HQ ad.

The five-story headquarters is bedecked with one of Sybase's current signature ads. The giant wrap depicts a gent wearing a black bowler hat, with a red banner stretching across his eyes. The idea nut is in the tag line: "Without a Sybase Enterprise Portal, Your Business Is Operating in the Dark."

Known in Sybase circles as "the little man," the bowler-topped chap is certainly no longer little.

Idea Provides Significant Savings

While the idea may strike some as more than a little wacky, it's solidly grounded in bottom-line realities.

The initiative originated when Sybase executives wanted to increase the Bay-area visibility of the company's B2B enterprise portal. That, though, looked like a pricey proposition. Local billboard ads cost as much as US$75,000 a month.

Wrapping the headquarters instead "cost significantly less than $100,000," according to Sybase Director of Advertising Jill Byron. (Sybase also paid a small project-approval fee to Emeryville government (www.emeryville.net), she explained.)

There's no further cost involved in "running" the headquarters ad, which debuted in early October. And Sybase doesn't even own the building.

For that one-time $100,000 expenditure, Sybase is getting very high visibility for its derby-clad gent. Since the headquarters sits beside busy I-80, some 170,000 commuters pass the ad every workday. (And with the area's rush-hour gridlock, a lot of them are getting a long, long look.)

Sybase Employees: Oh Say Can You See?

But what about Sybase staffers inside the ad-encased headquarters? Are they, too, "operating in the dark?"

No, since the gargantuan wrap is made of a material called "Clear Focus," the same substance used to wrap buses and retail storefronts. With its mesh-like texture, Clear Focus allows Sybase employees to see out their windows.

Executives haven't said yet whether Sybase plans to use similar signage at the new headquarters it announced in May. Construction of the headquarters in Dublin, Calif., some 40 miles (64.4 km.) east of San Francisco, is scheduled for completion in the summer of 2001.

For the current HQ, though, there's no wrap on tap. Produced by Impact Imaging (www.4colorimages.com), the mammoth ad will be in place though the end of 2000, Sybase executives say. And it may stay in place even longer, they add.


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