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SAP to lure rivals' clients

The company will launch a global ad campaign beginning Thursday aimed at luring PeopleSoft and J.D. Edwards customers who are unnerved by Oracle's hostile bid for PeopleSoft.

    SAP will launch a global ad campaign beginning Thursday focused on luring PeopleSoft and J.D. Edwards customers who are unnerved by Oracle's hostile bid for PeopleSoft.

    The German software maker plans to run print advertisements globally in major daily newspapers that tempt its rivals' clients to defect with financial enticements and a promise to make the switch painless. The first U.S. ad will appear Thursday in The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the ad campaign Wednesday.

    SAP's aggressive ad campaign comes at a critical moment--just weeks after PeopleSoft announced the acquisition of J.D. Edwards and more ominously on the heels of Oracle's unsolicited bid to acquire PeopleSoft.

    "With all the industry news from last week, there has been a lot of uncertainty in the market from a customer perspective--a lot of confusion that has left them wondering what this means for them," said Laurie Doyle Kelly, an SAP spokeswoman. "SAP wants people to know SAP has alternatives."

    Analysts said that if Oracle's bid does go through, PeopleSoft customers will be forced to look for alternatives. Indeed, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison has aggravated worries among PeopleSoft clients by intimating that Oracle will phase out its rival's software. PeopleSoft spokeswoman Dee Anna McPherson said her company declined to comment "at this time."

    Given the recent turmoil in the normally staid enterprise software industry--from Siebel Systems' shaky financial situation to the sale of troubled software maker Baan--customers are concerned about where to turn.

    "This is a loud statement from SAP that they are a safe vendor," said Betsy Burton, an analyst at research firm Gartner. Oracle also is likely to benefit from the uncertainty, she said.

    However, companies that have already achieved a return on their investments on applications from PeopleSoft and J.D. Edwards are not moving to upgrade.

    "We're not seeing anyone ready to rip out PeopleSoft and replace it with SAP, but that upgrade is in a holding pattern," said Oscar Perez, president of , a technology consulting firm.

    SAP said it wooed 40 customers away from Baan with a similar ad campaign when Invensys first announced its intent to acquire Baan in 2000.

    In other SAP news, the company announced that it is developing add-ons to its NetWeaver integration software that are tailored for the high-tech manufacturing and chemical industries. The extensions, based on the RosettaNet and Chem eStandard XML (Extensible Markup Language) data formats, will make it easier for different companies to exchange transactional information that's used in business applications, SAP said.

    The first industry-specific additions will be available by the end of the year. SAP also intends to build in support for data formats that are used in the automotive and retail industries.

    CNET News.com's Martin LaMonica contributed to this report.