|Computer giant is wired for tennis.
At this year's Open, which runs from Aug. 27 through Sept. 9, IBM intends to engage prospective customers and serious tennis fans even more directly with a multilayered campaign that includes print and interactive advertising, as well as e-mail messages that drive fans to www.usopen.org, the United States Tennis Association's official Web site. The site is designed, built and hosted by IBM.
"Fans will have a virtual seat to the U.S. Open," said Eli Primrose-Smith, vice president of worldwide sponsorship marketing for IBM. "We have evolved the technology of how we host and deliver this content to the world."
The U.S. Open marks a decade-long relationship between IBM and the U.S.T.A.
Targeting IT professionals
Banner ads break Aug. 23 on ZDNet, InternetWeek, TechRepublic, TechTV, TechWeb and several other Web sites that target information technology professionals at medium and large businesses. The banners will send Web surfers directly to the usopen.org site. Links from IBM Web sites to usopen.org go live this week; print ads in tech publications such as Hearst Magazines and Dow Jones' joint venture Smart Money and IDG's Computerworld and InfoWorld also break this week.
IBM will send e-mail messages to 20,000 customer prospects starting Aug. 27, designed to drive them to the U.S.T.A. site.
Modem Media, Norwalk, Conn., handles interactive duties for the effort; WPP Group's Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, New York, is responsible for e-business-hosting print ads for IBM Global Services. Ms. Primrose-Smith declined to specify spending on U.S. Open marketing, a portion of which is closely tied to ongoing, but also forthcoming, corporate ad messages on e-business infrastructure and e-hosting. However, she said that nearly 8% of IBM's $650 million global media budget is devoted to interactive marketing, or about $40 million to $50 million. The U.S. Open effort is just a fraction of those interactive resources.
The Web-oriented push will show key members of IBM's U.S. Open team via streaming audio and video, discussing IBM's Web-hosting capabilities as they relate to the Open for a behind-the-scenes perspective.
"By showing how IBM delivers the U.S. Open event, we are suggesting the challenges and opportunities of hosting the U.S. Open on the Web are not so different from those that companies face," said Nada MacKinney, marketing project manager, IBM Global Services.
Customers are offered a chance to speak to IBM further for more information about Web-hosting services; if they make a purchase, they get a one-month rebate on a year's contract.
Customers clicking on a banner ad will see a small pop-up box that resembles a remote control in which they'll see IBM employees describe what they're doing for the Open. Viewers get a peek at the immense infrastructure that runs the Open's operations and, of course, the souped-up Web site.
While no live tournament action is allowed, prohibited by broadcast contracts, the IBM-powered site allows viewers to click to control camera angles and access digital still images via SlamCam and NetCam features. A downloadable scoreboard feature enables fans to access real-time results from any court.
Among the new features on the site: live traffic updates delivered to Internet-enabled wireless phones, pagers and handheld devices for fans traveling to the U.S.T.A. National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, New York; and updates with match results and interactive games, both also provided via mobile devices.