To promote its strategic business services, IBM Business Consulting last month launched an ad campaign with the theme, "The other IBM."
The campaign, created by Ogilvy & Mather New York, is the first major one for IBM's consulting practice since it acquired PricewaterhouseCoopers Consulting in October 2002. The budget for the campaign was not disclosed.
Previous ads for IBM Consulting have been incorporated into IBM's overall advertising for a wide range of business services. The objective of the new campaign is to raise awareness among C-level executives of IBM's expertise in strategic business consulting services beyond IT.
"IBM has such a strong heritage as a technology company," said Chris Wall, senior partner and co-creative director of Ogilvy & Mather. "A lot of people don't realize they also do business consulting, and not just technology consulting."
IBM Business Consulting is just one of the strategic services IBM is building up in its evolution to a company that provides business transformation services, a vision that CEO Sam Palmisano has promoted over the past two years.
"On demand business," IBM's overall tagline, reflects the company's focus on providing business and IT solutions in an on-demand world. The "other IBM" is designed to communicate the company's expertise in areas not typically associated with IBM.
Going beyond IT
"IBM's long-term vision is to go beyond IT and to go after business performance transformation services," said Rebecca Segal, an analyst at IDC.
IDC pegs this market, which includes everything from outsourcing human resource recruiting to providing strategic vision, at half a trillion dollars.
"IBM only has a little piece of this," Segal said. "It is very critical that they become recognized as business process experts. People don't necessarily think of IBM in that regard."
The new campaign, including TV, print and online, attempts to change that perception.
Using imagery of Arthur and the round table alternating with a modern business conference table, the ads portray age-old business problems that are faced by large enterprises, from supply chain issues to human resources.
In a series of TV spots that broke during CBS' broadcast of the Masters golf tournament on April 10, the knights at the round table and executives in a contemporary boardroom discuss their various business problems and propose solutions.
One spot, called "Sir Arthur and the Vile Hex," begins with modern-day executives discussing a pressing problem. "The analysts have fallen out of love with us," says one executive.
The scene flips to Arthur's round table, where a knight proclaims, "An evil wizard has cast a hex upon our empire."
The proposed solution is war-as in price war-until Arthur says, "There must be some other solution." He decides to call IBM Business Consulting.
In another TV spot, called, "Sir Arthur's Business Roundtable," the knights tell Arthur that a giant sloth has attacked their service harbor, causing increased prices and customer unrest. The proposed solution is to build a catapult and fire giant projectiles at the sloth.
For ammunition, the knights propose using bags of money.
"You're going to throw money at the problem?" Arthur says. He decides to call IBM Business Consulting instead.
Print ads elaborate on the story, describing how IBM Business Consulting can help businesses solve problems in HR, manufacturing, supply chain and finance. "More and more, businesses are having to transform themselves and change their basic processes," Wall said. "IBM wants to help them."
IBM is competing against established firms such as Accenture and BearingPoint, both of which have invested in significant ad campaigns over the past two years.
Accenture is in the second year of an ambitious campaign featuring golf champion Tiger Woods with the tagline, "High performance. Delivered." The latest effort broke in September, including TV spots, and print and online ads. More ads are slated to break later this year.
BearingPoint has not launched a major ad campaign since September 2003, when it undertook a rebranding effort to announce its name change from KPMG Consulting.
"The major communications problem with something as abstract as consulting is, how do you make it interesting and interruptive?" Wall said. "We wanted this campaign to be different from other things we've done for IBM," he added.