As head of creative for the IBM Corp. account at Ogilvy & Mather, New York, for the past nine years, Chris Wall has seen the technology industry go through many changes.
"We had the go-go years of the dot-com era, then we kind of had a hangover after the crash, and now we have an in-between stage," said Wall, senior partner and co-creative director. "There is a realization that a lot of the promises and stuff we talked about in the late ‘90s is starting to happen, but the companies that are doing it are companies you know and trust, not 20-year-old kids."
Wall said changes in the technology industry have called for different approaches to creative development.
"After the [dot-com] crash, there was a backlash, when everyone thought the technology was just full of hype," he said.
Ogilvy capitalized on that feeling in October 2002 when it launched a new campaign for IBM with the tagline "E-Business on Demand." In the integrated campaign, Ogilvy created a phony company called Bagotronics that manufactured business products such as magic binoculars and a time machine.
The idea was to contrast the hype of many IT vendors in the dot-com era to the real business solutions that IBM provides.
Now, as the technology economy recovers, Wall said, advertising is shifting as well.
"There was a time when b-to-b was thought of as very serious and austere," he said.
"Now, business has become like sports, where people follow businesses and stocks like they follow sports scores. That is a pretty big shift. You find us talking about business in a more entertaining way."
Earlier this year, Ogilvy launched a new campaign for IBM Business Consulting with the theme, "The other IBM." TV spots showed scenes of business executives at a conference table and knights around the legendary round table, discussing common problems such as rising prices and supply chain management issues.
Wall said his creative approach is to "simplify complex issues." "You have to take the problems that people have and use them as an entry point to communicating your message," he said.
It’s an approach he has been using successfully during his advertising career, which included stints at BBDO and Wieden & Kennedy before he joined Ogilvy & Mather.
Wall has created ad campaigns for some of the biggest brands on the planet, including Apple Computer, Coca-Cola, Kodak, Microsoft, Nike and Pepsi. He’s also won most of the major advertising awards, including Cannes lions, Clios and One Show, Andy, Addy and Effie awards.