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April, 2024

When bold B2B marketing bets hit pay dirt: Workday’s global Rockstars campaign blows up consideration, awareness, trust, leads up 50% – Billy Idol, Gwen Stefani and Travis Barker sign on for part II

What you need to know:

  • Workday has launched Act Two in its global Rockstars campaign with new commercials featuring Billy Idol, Gwen Stefani and Travis Barker. But the spotlight is shifting to the “real rockstars” Workday’s customers.
  • The metrics from the first campaign which kicked off with Superbowl 2023 last year are impressive; brand consideration up 65 per cent, Awareness up 14 per cent, and a 24 per cent increase in companies that believe Workday is a brand they can trust.
  • CMO Emma Chalwin describes it as a bold bet that has paid off handsomely. “It was the first time we’ve done anything of such high-value – it was a test, to be honest, but we got such great traction.”
  • Best of all the integrated campaign that also includes things like social media, outdoor, and account-based marketing has arrested years of slow lead growth with a 50 per cent uptick. That’s the kind of thing that can quieten even the loudest sales voice in a local sector that can be notoriously performance-driven.

Consideration of our brand increased by 65 per cent, the awareness of our brand increased globally 14 per cent. And we saw a 24 per cent increase in audiences considering Workday as a brand they could trust, which was one of the key metrics that we wanted to bring across.

Workday chief marketing officer Emma Chalwin

B2B marketers in Australia often struggle to access brand budgets, and many say their arguments for more brand spend are overwhelmed by the sales leaders who often have an outsized voice and a greater share of the country manager’s time.

Globally, B2B companies invest about 30 per cent of their marketing spend into brand activity, but as Mi3 reported last year – and despite the best efforts of Ehrenberg-Bass and the B2B Institute – Australia’s B2B marketers struggle to shift funds away from performance and field marketing, even though they know it is the right thing to do.

The reason: sales leaders simply have more clout – and they want lead gen, yesterday.

Hence many local B2B marketers are cheering the success of last year’s Workday Rockstars campaign (even some of of the local marketers working for its competitors) and why many B2B marketers will be watching the results of round two of its Rockstar campaign, which kicked off in the US on Monday, so closely.

Workday’s initial Rockstars brand campaign kicked off in February 2023 with a Super Bowl ad. That campaign featured Ozzy Osbourne, Billy Idol, Joan Jett, Gary Clark Jr., and Paul Stanley. 

Workday’s global chief marketing officer Emma Chalwin can now happily rattle off key success metrics that have given the brand confidence to push even harder.

“Consideration of our brand increased by 65 per cent, the awareness of our brand increased globally 14 per cent. And we saw a 24 per cent increase in audiences considering Workday as a brand they could trust, which was one of the key metrics that we wanted to bring across,” Chalwin told Mi3.

Importantly the campaign also reversed years of slow lead growth and instead “turned the trend into 50 per cent upside,” she said.

“So we not only generated more traffic and eyeballs on to our content and our website, but we really saw a massive uptick in people knowing who we are and what we did, which was great.”

The campaign also cleaned up several awards including a Gold Cannes Lions for B2B Craft. It was rated as one of the 10 ten Super Bowl ads in USA Today’s 2023 A Meter – where it was the only B2B brand showcased.

Plus, like the long tail effect of most quality brand work, “the awards are still coming in, which is phenomenal”, per Chalwin. “Ogilvy is very happy with the work we’ve done together.”

More importantly than the silverware it has collected, the campaign also represented a change in approach for Workday, which competes for attention across a range of c-suite buyers including CFOs, CHROs, and CIOs against tech giants including Microsoft, SAP, and Oracle.

In other words, sales understands that brand can power demand.

“It was a bold decision that we made,” says Chalwin. “It was the first time we’ve done anything of such kind of high-value – and we got such great traction, it was a test, to be honest with you … but we got such great traction.”

With the next phase of the campaign, Chalwin aims to leverage the Rockstar theme to double down on “brand to demand to customer advocacy”.

“It’s not a ‘one and done’ thing,” she says. “It’s part of a super integrated campaign.”

The new ads, released earlier this week, feature Billy Idol, Glen Stefani, and Blink 182’s Travis Barker. Titled “We’re All Rock Stars,” and “Rock Responsibly,” you can see them for yourself below. 


The Rockstar thematics will feature in events, out-of-home social media strategy, and the paid digital strategy, as well as part of Workday’s Account Based Marketing strategy.

The goal now is to personalise the idea of rock stars – and flip it from the idols to the customer. 

“We will make rock star heroes out of our customers. So we have the real rock stars, and then our customer rockstars, because we really want to put the customers at the centre of everything we do.”

Chalwin also calls out the importance of the support she has from the leadership team.

“We’re really leveraging it across all elements of the marketing mix and have a really omni-channel approach. When you start seeing that spike, and increase in prospect visits, in customer interactions, and in leads that close into real business then it wasn’t hard to prove the impact.”

“I’m very, very blessed at Workday to work with a CEO who is a great marketeer. Carl Eschenbach, he loves the creativity, he loves to do things differently, to push the boundaries.”

Main stage

It’s also a recognition that Workday has arrived at an inflection point. 

No longer a plucky ERP scale-up with a primarily US focus and dedication to HR solutions, Workday is becoming a global powerhouse that now extends into financial software – the core business of rivals SAP and Oracle (with whom it already competes in HCM).

Of its 10,000 customers worldwide, the majority now also use its financial solutions – hence trust metrics being key to helping power that cross-platform growth, likewise awareness to tap those outside its existing customer base.

Per Chalwin: “Marketing plays such a huge part in how we elevate creating that top-of-funnel awareness in the markets across the globe, as we’re building the brand.”

And she says you can’t just slap any B2B logo onto Workday – like all evolved B2B brands, boring ads are out (because they are largely a waste of money). Instead, she says, the campaign reflects the “tone of voice and the humour, the words, the way it made you feel is very, very, Workday.”

Because of that – and all those hot leads and powering brand metrics – she says she has no trouble convincing her colleagues that internally it was the right thing to do – initially no mean feat, given Super Bowl cost of entry.

“If it was not part of an integrated initiative, then yeah, it’s an expensive way to do marketing. But it’s actually something that is part of the thread that goes through everything you do, even down to our customer advocacy, how we showcase our customers, and the value that Workday brings.”

There’s more to come, she says. “We’ve got some really fun things planned throughout the rest of this year.”