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The Net Takeaway: Strange campaign from Netezza


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Strange campaign from Netezza · 04/10/2009 10:04 AM, Database Marketing

Netezza is an impressive company, no argument there. I’ve met some folks from there that I’ve really enjoyed talking to, and they deliver an impressive product (though it’s cost has continued to rise since the early days).

However, this “Data Liberators” campaign is somewhat odd, another case of misguided use of social marketing and “from the trenches” fakery.

The name is cute: The Data Liberators. They have a somewhat stilted and odd blog at They do have t-shirts and such with the logo, which is kind of violent, but some will like it. They have a twitter account, yadda yadda.

But, as usual, you have to read into it with some effort to discover that the whole thing is just an ad for Netezza. It’s not a movement for data independence ala Health Records or Facebook export, or even for providing more real consumer benefits of any kind. Netezza is mentioned here and there, but there is no copyright, no “sponsored by”, nothing to make it clear that this is an ad. Yes, they drop a few tiny hints: the writer is “ntza1” and their “Policy Truth” newsletter is hosted at

But only on this sign-up page do you see “©2008-2009 Netezza Corporation All Rights Reserved”. I suspect the realized that if they are collecting identifiers, it’s probably smart to leave some clue who they are, even if they feel no need to mention a privacy policy. And if you read the source code of the page, they reveal more of the truth (but not all of it) in the meta tags (clearly to them, it is more important to cater to the search engines than to your potential customers.)

Look, I love a clever campaign as much as the next guy. But I hate, hate, hate misleading ads. Virals that are staged to look “amateur”, fake “movements”, all of these cries for attention are saying “we have to lie to you to get you to listen to us”. Is the the kind of brand perception you really want?

Yes, by going over the top with a bombastic style and a few hints, Netezza hopes that savvy readers will get that this is an ad. And I’m sure someone mentioned that the best ads are ones that drive use of the product without mentioning it. Sometimes, that’s true. This is not one of those times.

My suggestion: Put an “about us”. Explain that the “movement” is a funny take on some real concerns, and that it’s sponsored by Netezza. It’s OK to raise FUD if there really is an issue to consider.

Netezza, you might be right about how Oracle is approaching big data. But after reading this ad, my trust of using your stuff to host my data dropped a few pegs,and that’s too bad. You guys changed how big data is stored and paved the way for the rise of data-driven corps by making the cost a fraction of Teradata; continue to keep our attention with more technical wizardry instead of misleading marketing.

Update, April 16, 2009 Netezza has added a nice About This Movement entry on the site which reveals that Netezza is behind the whole thing. I think that is a good step, and I applaud Netezza for taking the effort to pull back the curtain and clearly take responsibility for the site. Still not sure how it will all work for them (I still think the name would be better used for a movement of data portability across social networks or something like that) but being up front about the whole thing will allow everyone who does want to interact with the “movement” to do so with full knowledge of it’s origins and goals.

* * *


  1. I suspect you are giving us credit for being more sophisticated in our marketing campaigns than we actually are! Data Liberators is tongue in cheek and presented in a style which we hope encourages frank discussion. We chose to keep Netezza’s name in the background to avoid it getting in the way of any dialog. It’s early days and so much discussion is yet to take place, but several hundred folks have signed up and there appears to be some interest in what we have to say — albeit we can be a bit enthusiastic sometimes and may have misjudged logo placement. While I suspect it’s our exuberance that actually gives the game away, we will add the About link as you suggest and appreciate you taking the time to review our campaign.
    Just to clarify your point about pricing. Our per terabyte pricing has actually fallen by around 80% since our product launch and so we would not agree that our pricing has continued to increase as you say.

    Tim Young    Apr 10, 03:15 PM    #

  2. Tim, I am sure you had the best intentions, but I strongly agree with Michael that this kind of campaign screams for transparency. You’re not just being funny with the site—you’re also throwing jabs at your competitors. That’s fine, but only if you’re upfront about who you are. I’m glad you’re taking Michael’s advice to heart and adding an About link.

    Daniel Tunkelang    Apr 10, 04:32 PM    #

  3. Though Mr. Young didn’t say it himself, I am honored to have the Netezza VP of Corporate Marketing visiting my blog. Read more from Tim Young at (no, I don’t know why they put the blogs under a different domain name).

    As for pricing… I won’t go into details, as every contract is different, but depending on what features you require, some things which used to be included are additional cost, or have license fees which used to not exist. Per terabyte pricing may have gone down, but fully loaded costs may not have followed the same pattern. YMMV, so always take what someone says about pricing with a grain of salt: the person who complains about pricing may not have been a very good negotiator.

    Michael Wexler    Apr 10, 11:22 PM    #

  4. I totally agree with this post. How ironic is it that the company that wants to “liberate your data” can not even clearly mark their amateur effort of stealth social marketing. The numbers would lead one to believe it is not very successful either: there are less than 10 comments on the blog, and the youtube videos have only a few hundred views over the course of over 3 months, so the participation seems to be very little. I have to admit, when I saw that video of Bob Doyle at the hotel in search of Exadata or the HP Oracle Database Machine, I had to ask myself: How old is this guy? I would expect something like that from the twenty something crew at Gizmodo or something. Perhaps Bob should go back to programming COLBOL or something more appropriate. (Sorry for being snarky but how could one resist?)

    I guess when your stock is down 60% from its IPO price you have to revert to less costly means of advertising.

    Max Payne    Apr 14, 05:02 AM    #

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