Cybercritique: IBM's banners cast shadow on competitor Sun

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CRITIQUE: Shooting for the stars, IBM Corp. takes direct aim at Sun Microsystems in its new online campaign. The tag, "It's easy to eclipse a sun," employs an animated sun that's covered as a shadow passes over it. Clicking produces a series of servers produced by Sun; even letting the cursor rest on the Sun machines darkens them as well and brings up a graphic of their IBM equivalents.

This is quite a departure from IBM's big push launched last year. The touchy-feely "Magic Box" effort and its accompanying banners have tried to take cold Web servers and make them seem like cuddly pets. Servers, aw, how cute. The banners set out to be playful gifts to the Internet with growing flowers and flying planes.

After watering the soil, now IBM is flinging mud.

While competitive advertising is well-established, these ads are some of the first from a major advertiser to bring head-to-head comparisons to the Web. As marketers look to do more with banners, it was only a matter of time before they took a negative turn.

In general, we're not in favor of negative ads. These, however, do work. New banners say way more about the product than the "Magic Box" ads ever have done. In a market where every little bit, byte and hertz counts, that's the best way to cast a shadow on the competition.

WHO CREATED IT: Ogilvy Interactive, New York

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