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Deirdre Bigley

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Deirdre Bigley is a soccer mom. But true to career form, she is no ordinary soccer mom. This IBM VP-worldwide advertising and interactive doesn't just drive the minivan and cheer from the sidelines-she manages both her son's and daughter's soccer teams in Montclair, N.J.

At IBM, Bigley oversees all television, print and interactive advertising around the globe, as well as all content on ibm.com, which logs 25,000 unique visitors per month. She also manages the relationship with Ogilvy & Mather, IBM's agency for the past 11 years.

This last task is likely made easier by the fact that Bigley came to IBM from Ogilvy-where she worked on the IBM account-nine years ago, joining IBM's Strategic Brand Advertising team, where she managed both print and TV work. Before Ogilvy, Bigley also worked at agencies in Boston and Dallas.

"You have a different relationship with the agency when you come from there," she said. "It's definitely better. The people I worked with [at Ogilvy] mostly aren't there anymore, but there is still the same kind of camaraderie. And you understand what the agency goes through to get work out."

She also spent several years at IBM in sales as director of integrated marketing communications in the Sales and Distribution Group. Her direct connection to sales and responsibility managing the campaign metrics for more than $1 billion in lead revenue gave her a better perspective of, and appreciation for, the link between sales and marketing.

"I think it's important for marketing people to have spent some time in sales. I don't think you understand the pain of a salesperson until you've spent some time in their shoes," Bigley said. "We have a direct funnel to our customers with the sales force, so if we can get to our salespeople, they're the best focus group we've got going."

IBM strove this year to capitalize on its unique perspective of technology, services and society, Bigley said. Advertising focused on business problems and how technology can help solve that with new work for the Business Consulting Group, with its "The Other IBM" campaign, as well as new "on demand" advertisements, including "The Help Desk" campaign.

IBM's challenge going forward will be to continue to push its business consulting services while messaging on the importance of its innovative technology. Bigley said the eight-month Business Consulting Group campaign was successful, with perception of IBM in this arena on the upswing; IBM will now continue the consulting message in an integrated business plus technology marketing strategy. "You have to beat the drum for a long time because you're changing a perception," she said.

IBM also bought its "tried and true" mix of TV, print and Web but added new components such as blogging and podcasting. IBM added a dedicated blogger to its "on demand" Web site, as well as encouraged all employees to blog by publishing a set of blogging guidelines. The company did the same thing for podcasting recently, fresh off the successful use of the audio distribution technology during its corporate sponsorship of the U.S. Open. During the 14-day event, former tennis pro Tracy Austin related IBM podcasts on the tournament, players and results, brought to listeners by IBM, the official IT sponsor and provider of all behind the scenes technology at the U.S. Open.

Positive customer feedback has been encouraging, Bigley said, and means more media strategy openness is likely in the future. She's even considered doing a blog of her own. Somehow it seems likely the VP and soccer manager could make the time.

-Beth Snyder Bulik

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