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Comedian Tim Washer and IBM's viral campaign

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COMEDIAN TIM WASHER RARELY TAKES HIMSELF seriously, appearing everywhere from “Saturday Night Live,” to Budweiser commercials, to a plethora of late-night talk shows. But in 2004, the strictly humorous man landed a new job—this one with IBM Corp., whose brand would hardly be considered comical. IBM, in an attempt to poke fun at its newly established Mainframe Division, hired Washer for a series of viral videos featuring absurdist marketing humor for IBM's then-new System z technology. The campaign took off, garnering almost 500,000 views for the six-part series on YouTube—with each video providing a link, and driving traffic, to the Mainframe informational Web site. Last month, Washer appeared at a Business Development Institute seminar on corporate social media practices. Though now several years removed from his Mainframe campaign, Washer praised IBM's willingness to embrace creative absurdity in the corporate marketing world and warned the audience that fear was the greatest hindrance to a company's ability to maneuver successfully in the social media realm. —Dillon White
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