Celebrating the best in b-to-b

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Welcome to BtoB's Best 2005: Top Marketers, Brands, Creative. This special issue presents our selections for the top b-to-b brands, the year's best creative and profiles of notable marketers.

Our Marketer of the Year (page 4) is Karen Jones, VP-advertising, brand and promotions at DHL Express USA. Named to this newly created position just last year, Jones "had to start from scratch to build a marketing department and embark on the company's first U.S. advertising campaign in 20 years." Part of that effort included a $150 million rebranding campaign and a just-launched $50 million campaign with the theme, "Customer service is back in shipping." (The creative for this campaign is the winner of the TV category in this year's issue; last year, DHL was the winner of our integrated category, in part, for its bold decision to run TV spots that identified, by name, its two principal competitors.)

This issue's picks of the top b-to-b brands provide detailed examinations of 10 companies. Not surprisingly, seven of these brands appeared in last year's inaugural top brands report. As we write on the opening page of this section (page 22), this reflects "the staying power of such powerhouse names as Dell, GE and IBM."

Included with every profile is a box containing the following elements: 2004 advertising spending; Interbrand/BusinessWeek ranking; brand value as calculated by CoreBrand; and expert commentaries.

Take two of the brands we profile: search engine giant Google and diversified industrial behemoth General Electric Co. In some ways, Google and GE couldn't be more different. Google is young (7 years), GE is old (126 years); Google spends little on advertising ($4.6 million in 2004), GE spends a lot ($1 billion in 2004). But both companies are identical in this regard: They share a deep understanding of their brands' value and a profound awareness that change-carefully done to retain consistency-must be a perpetual part of the business plan. Consider GE's "Ecomagination" campaign, its push to make environmentally responsible solutions and products, which is subtly connected to the company's 2003 rebranding campaign, "Imagination at Work." "We think this will be a $30 billion revenue generator in the first four to seven years," says Beth Comstock, GE's CMO and corporate VP-marketing.

Another commonality among many of the brands we highlight this year, from American Express to Visa, is the pursuit of small business, an opportunity that b-to-b marketers of all stripes appear to have promoted in their thinking recently. How well enterprise-level brands translate their messages for small and midsize markets may spell the difference between long-term growth and decline.

Last but not least, this issue contains our BtoB Best Awards, which honor creative work in four categories: integrated campaign, TV, print and interactive.

The creative awards in this year's issue recognize some well-known campaigns-IBM's "The World's Help Desk," winner of the integrated campaign category-as well as some you may have missed, such as Xerox's "Color" campaign, winner of the print category.

Enjoy BtoB's Best 2005. (You can also view this content at our Web site, , or even download a PDF of the issue.) See you next year, when we plan a few creative surprises of our own.

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