BtoB

Sawyer--Television

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The commercial that captured BtoB’s Sawyer Award for best TV spot, IBM Corp.’s "Heist," plays like an old-school detective movie. Developed by IBM’s agency of record Ogilvy & Mather, New York, the 60-second spot is a humorous—but effective—component of IBM’s overall e-business campaign.

It opens with police cars pulling up to a building, lights flashing and sirens blaring. A harried business executive greets the investigators and takes them inside, where he shows them a seemingly empty room. The dialogue between the cops and the manager is fast and snappy.

"What was stolen?"

"Everything." The executive reels off all the data that were on the stolen computers—payroll, research and development, customer records.

"How much money we talkin’?"

It’s millions.

The casting is perfect, with the manager so flustered he’s about to hyperventilate, and the cops portraying tough, cynical characters. They want to get down to business to solve this crime, and they’re not about to waste any time.

From the distance, a geeky-looking young techie walks toward them through the empty room, eating a donut.

"Ned, the servers … they stole all our servers!" the office manager cries.

Ned shows no surprise as he continues to eat his donut. "No, we moved everything onto that one." He points to one sleek, black, presumably IBM, server standing against the wall. "It’s gonna save us a bundle. I sent out an e-mail," Ned says offhandedly as he walks away.

The ad ends with a voice-over, "Good infrastructure. It can save you a bundle." Then one cop asks the other, "What’s a server?"

The ad, which touts IBM’s e-business servers running Linux, is dramatic, funny and presents a very tangible sales proposition.

"It’s a fairly complex technical message to say IBM and Linux can help you save money," said Chris Wall, executive creative director at Ogilvy. "This is an example of taking something with the highest degree of difficulty and complexity, and making it simple and direct."

Believe it or not, the ad is based on a true user case of a telecom company in Sweden, which consolidated data from 25 servers onto one, Wall said. "We took that and created drama around it," he said.

The Chasers believe the real beauty of the ad is that while the joke’s on the executive, the target audience of information technology staffers is sure to get it, and can use the example to influence executives who might sign off on the purchasing decision.

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