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Sawyer Awards Special Report: Interactive (Online)

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Winner: IBM Corp.
Agency: In-house

The world stage can be a rough one to play on, as IBM learned all too well in 1996. Atlanta's summer Olympic Games saw IBM stick its neck out but struggle to the finish line. Big Blue poked holes in the notion that any press is good press as they let the world know who was powering the technology behind the Games, only to have glitch after glitch create bad news for the marketer. The defeat was a major upset for IBM, and as in all sporting events, it limped back to the locker room to regroup and take another look at the game plan.

This year, the Chasers recognize the tremendous interactive marketing performance IBM put on at the Sydney Games, which stands well on its own, but represents a Herculean turnaround when viewed in context.

These down-under Games found IBM stripping down its push and showing marketers that less can indeed be more. Instead of spinning story after story and ad after ad touting its services, IBM wisely kept the technology behind the Games behind the scenes.

The e-business site was a solid case study of how IBM made technology work for the Olympics and how easily it could translate those systems to other businesses. The resulting package delivered the message that IBM really can compete in the global marketplace and take home the gold, while fitting in with IBM's overall corporate sponsorship of the event and its official Web site, olympics.com.

Runner-Up: Sun Microsystems Inc.
Agency: Tonic 360

for the interactive Sawyer Award helped kick off a trend sure to carry well into the next year. The banner designed by Tonic 360, San Francisco, for Sun Microsystems' server products followed a tried-and-true axiom of exposition that carries well into interactive marketing: Show, don't tell.

Rather than merely extolling the power of the machines, Tonic and Sun used the valuable Web real estate to present a case study of how online banners help real businesses. For an established brand such as Sun, using the space so effectively to further its message is a major plus for its marketing strategies. And in the effective example of the Toystore.com case study banner, a few short and simple animations deliver more than volumes of Power Point presentations.

This interactive, animated banner was just one of several online creatives developed by Tonic 360 for Sun. This limited audition turned out to be a showstopper, as the boutique agency's performance prompted the Java giant to name Tonic its agency of record for all its advertising.

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