photo of will arnett as the naysayer throwing a piece of crumpled paper with the commercetools logo in the top right corner

Position, Reputation

commercetools Breaks B2B Tradition and Skyrockets Visibility With Landmark Campaign

The commerce solution tapped Will Arnett for a campaign that ditched B2B norms to skyrocket brand visibility.


In a market dominated by slow-to-innovate, legacy platforms, commercetools’ solutions are fit to support customers today and for generations to come. As the inventor of “headless commerce”, commercetools empowers businesses all over the globe with the ability to be agile and sell wherever customers are. This is a stark contrast to the inflexible legacy platforms which constrain innovation, impede responses, and limit revenue generation.

Despite that distinction, the market is crowded with either large, known players that rest on brand recognition, or new players that lack the advanced technology required for today’s desired commerce experiences. commercetools needed a campaign that distinguished them in the industry as innovative provocateurs and leaders in composable commerce.

video completion rate on YouTube

video views in 3 months

positive sentiment around campaign

The Ask

As recognizable names and longtime defaults, legacy commerce platforms can be perceived as a safe financial choice to non-technical decision-makers. commercetools sought to correct this misperception by stripping away jargon-related barriers. They charged Walker Sands with creatively raising awareness and establishing credibility with business decision-makers.

The Concept

In conversations with commercetools’ leaders, Walker Sands learned that legacy commerce platforms were leaving business leaders feeling trapped and unable to keep up with consumer demands. Our team used this finding to underpin a campaign concept that would call attention to the often-ignored tyranny of legacy platforms while underscoring commercetools’ uniquely flexible, open approach to commerce. Walker Sands recommended a bold campaign that would position commercetools as a disruptive leader empowering the embrace of innovation rather than the stagnation provided by outdated technology.

The value of MACH (microservices, API-first, cloud-native, headless) architecture is undeniable, particularly in comparison to slow-moving legacy commerce tech. But given these established platforms’ market dominance, many leaders have difficulty imagining alternatives. To disrupt this commerce status quo, the Walker Sands Campaigns team recommended a video-centric, cross-channel campaign that would showcase the value of MACH by exposing the (often invisible) ways legacy platforms halt commerce progress. The creative would personify legacy commerce platforms as an insufferable, inflexible “Naysayer,” shooting down ideas and savoring stagnation. Walker Sands planned to cast comedic celebrity talent as the Naysayer to draw more eyes to the campaign and create content as entertaining as it was inciting.

commercetools has the technical credentials to back-up its claims of next-generation commerce — but on saturated digital channels, these technicalities can cause decision-makers to tune out. To cut through, Walker Sands envisioned videos that would ditch jargon and abandon the B2B playbook, embracing scroll-stopping quips to stand out from a sea of digital ads using the same buzzwords and stock video clips.

Through micro-OOH (out-of-home) ads and omnichannel paid and organic activations, Walker Sands designed the campaign to demonstrate how the Naysayer’s executive power has remained unquestioned, despite obvious drawbacks. Having established legacy platforms as an unwelcome commerce dictator, the campaign would then position commercetools as an agile, “yeasaying” solution. The creative invites decision-makers to embrace next-generation commerce and kick dated platforms out of the boardroom.

The Activation

Walker Sands kicked off the project by bringing Naysayer to life through a series of video spots. Working with commercetools, our team built out the Naysayer’s perspective, tone and distinct characteristics, identifying a range of actors who could fit the bill. Eventually, the teams landed on Will Arnett as the ideal recognizable actor who could garner media attention while expertly portraying the suave nature, empty promises and stubborn worldview of monolithic commerce platforms.

The creative team timed the campaign launch to coincide with OMRa popular European conference at which commercetools would capture attention through venue signage and hyper-focused OOH buys targeted to conference attendees. Onsite banners featured Will Arnett sneering at the idea of commerce innovation, setting commercetools apart from competitors sticking to the event-signage norms. While key industry leaders saw targeted campaign messaging at the conference, Walker Sands deployed strategic digital, social and PR activations that expanded its reach globally. Beyond these channels, the Naysayer persona took form through a status-quo-craving Twitter account and the Naysayer’s Guide to Business blog series. Through paid channels, Walker Sands’ Demand Generation team deployed nearly 3,000 ads across LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Google Display, Google Search and 6sense, with campaign messaging tailored to distinct digital audiences.

Illuminating legacy-tech frustrations was only one element of the campaign. It also needed to show that commercetools is the modern solution for commerce, an antidote for anti-everything tech. After being inundated with the Naysayer’s excuses and rejections at conferences or online, creative directed audiences to commercetools’ booth or landing page, where they were greeted with the transformative power of “yes.” For social and event activations, Walker Sands applied the freshly launched bright commercetools brand palette to the “yeasayer”as an inverse to the Naysayer’s dark, brooding visuals — cementing commercetools’ status as a partner that empowers new possibilities.

While structured around OMR, the campaign production timeline meant that final assets wouldn’t be ready in time for Shoptalk in Las Vegas, one of North America’s premier retail conferences. Although the event was prior to the campaign launch, commercetools still needed to have a presence at this conference, and hoped to make a mark with eye-catching creative. To meet this need, Walker Sands created a “Naysayings” sub-concept that was designed to exist on its own while also leading into the larger campaign. Excuses — and multilingual iterations of “No” — from the Naysayer covered Las Vegas during the conference, including airport ads, billboards, venue signage and taxi toppers. With legacy-tech negativity plastered across the city, commercetools’ booth offered a welcoming, yeasaying solace.

The Results

Almost immediately, the Naysayer campaign gained traction in retail circles and beyond, causing one eCommerce CEO to dub it, “One of the best ads for our industry I’ve ever seen.” The campaign took off almost immediately, causing brand conversations to spike over 3,200% in the first 24 hours. Campaign content boasts a 95% positive brand sentiment on social media and generated enough buzz to propel commercetools’ social share of voice from .4% to 4.2%. The first week brought in 299 followers, 985 link clicks and a 6.7% engagement rate, showing the power of cohesive, engaging organic social.

The PR team found success connecting with reporters to cover the creation of “The Naysayer,” with outlets placing it in context of a recent surge in creative B2B marketing. The campaign scored three feature placements in the first day, including Adweek and The Drum, and a mention in AdAge the following week.

On paid channels, the payoff of outside-the-box B2B marketing became even more evident. In the first day, the video gained 1.5 million impressions and a nearly 30% engagement rate. And viewers weren’t just scrolling past. On YouTube, campaign videos earned a 55% completion rate on the first day. Noting its success, commercetools CMO Jen Jones said, “The Naysayer campaign positioned us as the antidote to out-of-touch commerce technology in a comedic, relatable way. Whether you are on the technical side or the business side, viewers understood the message. Walker Sands and our awesome marketing team did an amazing job executing this campaign — and on a tight timeline.”

commercetools came to Walker Sands looking to break out in the industry and expose the limits of legacy tech. With a cross-channel campaign that used star power to reveal old-fashioned commerce platforms’ inflexibility, The Naysayer did just that — and illuminated the possibilities of a B2B company that’s willing to say “yes.”

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headshot of ann hagner, senior vice president of integrated at walker sands
Ann Hagner
Executive Vice President, Services