Some days you’re a company marketing automation software for businesses. And some days you’re a company marketing automation software for businesses and you’ve got money to burn, so hey, why not license Star Trek and hire Jonathan Frakes to hawk your (soft)wares?
That was the story behind this bizarre, distributed-on-VHS promotional video by the now-extinct Boole & Babbage, Inc., a holdover from the giant mainframe age of computing trying to survive in the desktop computing age. (The introduction of the IBM PC hit the company hard in the early 1980s, as the shift away from monolithic mainframes caused their mainframe-specific software sales to plummet.)
To give their relatively new enterprise (get it?) automation system, Command Post, a big promotional push, Boole & Babbage shelled out $75,000 to license Star Trek: The Next Generation imagery from Paramount Pictures in 1993, renewing that licensing deal at that amount for two further years. After a round of negotiations with the agents of Jonathan “Commander Riker” Frakes, and a little bit of filming on the bridge of the Enterprise, Boole & Babbage had themselves a new number one spokesperson.
(Just tell yourself this is from an episode involving Ferengi mind control. It’ll be okay.)
Frakes was also paid to make personal appearances with Star Trek: TNG uniform-clad Boole & Babbage sales reps at industry trade shows, reportedly a very successful business strategy. Let’s face it: early 1990s + a Star Trek: The Next Generation cast member + IT geeks? Sold. (It’s quite possible that the Futurama catchphrase “Shut up and take my money!” was first uttered at a Boole & Babbage trade show booth.)
Sadly, Boole & Babbage fell upon hard times, its stock prices falling almost as fast as the Enterprise plunged out of the sky in Star Trek: Generations. It was assimilated by a larger software company in late 1998, by which time the license for the Star Trek advertising campaign had been allowed to expire.
Further info on the making of “The Vision”: http://trekcore.com/blog/2013/10/exclusive-inside-boole-babbages-trek-vision/
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