IBM LOOKS TO SLOW DECLINES WITH NEW GLOBAL CAMPAIGN

Divisions Pool Ad Dollars for Integrated E-Business Effort

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- IBM Corp. is telling companies that e-business is a game they need to play to win in a sweeping new ad global campaign breaking in today's Wall Street Journal.

While the multimillion-dollar global push extends IBM's long-running e-business ad theme, it represents the first time Big Blue has pooled the advertising dollars of its server, software, storage and global services businesses to deliver an integrated message. The PC division, which does direct-response advertising, is not included in the umbrella effort but may participate in the future.

Critical time
The effort comes

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at a critical time for the tech giant, which is facing slowing growth across all of its businesses including semiconductors and disk drives, where business is projected to fall 35% year-over-year.

IBM pre-announced first-quarter earnings Monday of $18.4 billion to $18.6 billion, down 12% year-over-year.

The campaign, which debuts in an eight-page insert as the Journal unveils its new look, takes as its central theme "Play to win." While the ads have a new sign-off -- "e-business is the game. Play to win" -- it still includes IBM's iconic e-business symbol.

"E-business is a game that companies play to win," said Maureen McGuire, vice president of worldwide marketing management and integrated marketing communications, IBM. "If you're going to be in this game, 'play to win' should be your strategy."

Spending not disclosed
Ms. McGuire declined to specify spending on the campaign but said 70% of IBM's global ad budget is earmarked for the effort in the second, third and fourth quarters. IBM spent $314 million in measured media in the U.S., according to Taylor Nelson Sofres' CMR. The company spends an estimated $1.2 billion on global advertising and marketing activities.

The genesis of the new strategy came from a brief to IBM's agency, WPP Group's Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, New York, in December.

"We wanted to tell the entire IBM story," Ms. McGuire recalled. Ogilvy came up with a metaphor about basketball and e-business as team sports. The basketball imagery appeared earlier this year in a campaign about infrastructure but won't reappear. "Basketball was a bridge to the new campaign," she said.

End of the 'codernauts'
Each of the participating divisions pooled their ad dollars to have their product story told. For example, the Software Group's geeky spacesuit-clad "codernauts" will disappear but the unit will get its product message across via the "play to win" framework.

Print, TV, online and radio ads will focus on strategies that use IBM products and services that helped companies of all sizes save money. Ads will focus on cost containment and productivity through e-business systems and services.

Ms. McGuire declined to estimate on projected savings from the consolidated campaign.

"We are realizing some savings, yes. In production, we're better able to plan and execute the media," she said. "There will be savings, but we are plowing the savings back in."

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