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But two decades after the company was launched out of a small apartment in San Francisco and almost two years after opening the city's tallest building, you would be forgiven for not knowing what Salesforce does. That's true even after reading the "About Us" section on its website, which starts "Salesforce is a customer relationship management solution that brings companies and customers together."
Salesforce — whose stock ticker, CRM, stands for customer relationship management — is now making an aggressive effort to promote its brand in a way that more people can understand. Stephanie Buscemi, Salesforce's chief marketing officer and executive VP, said the company is rolling out a new global advertising campaign this week designed to help executives from businesses of all sizes and across a wide swath of industries get a clear sense of how Salesforce might work for them.
"There's high recognition of Salesforce. But when you get into the 'what we do,' we have further work to do there," Buscemi said in an interview. "The goal of the campaign is to really focus on talking about what our products do for our customers."
In recent years, Salesforce has evolved from a technology vendor focused on providing cloud-based tools that help salespeople and marketing teams connect with customers to a sprawling software giant that's one of the top acquirers in the industry. Last month, Salesforce closed the $15.3 billion acquisition of Tableau, its biggest deal ever, to push into data visualization tools. The $6.5 billion purchase of MuleSoft last year put Salesforce into the business of data integration, more of a back-end technology.
With the company becoming more complex, it's looking to simplify the message. The new ad campaign is called "We Bring Companies and Customers Together." Through radio, print, TV, digital, metro ads and more as well as some local events, Buscemi said Salesforce is showing specifically how its technology is used in different businesses.
For example, one of the digital ads shows a split screen with a shoe salesman on one side and a woman in her bedroom on the other. Between them is a smartphone featuring a Salesforce app, which shows an animated character suggesting a pink high heel to the woman. The ad promotes Salesforce's ability to help a shoe seller offer a personalized service to e-commerce customers.
It should be "easy for everyone to understand in a matter of seconds regardless of the audience," said Buscemi, who didn't say how much Salesforce is spending on the marketing effort. "We know while we're using the word customers, some people call them patients, some people call them shoppers, some people call them fans."
Salesforce's in-house creative team designed the campaign. The company will unveil it on Tuesday timed with Dmexco, a major digital marketing conference in Cologne, Germany, where Buscemi is speaking.
WATCH: A sky-high Salesforce trade