Abby Kohnstamm

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E-business and IBM. The two are inextricably linked, thanks to Abby Kohnstamm, senior VP-marketing at IBM Corp.

Ms. Kohnstamm, 46, made e-business the key tenet of Big Blue's global brand strategy and successfully integrated it into the company's advertising campaign in 1997.

When IBM struggled to shift its business into the network computing era, Ms. Kohnstamm masterfully tapped into a way to articulate e-business through advertising on TV, print, radio, direct mail and the Internet. She also helped translate the concept into the company's actual business practices.

Ms. Kohnstamm, in partnership with Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, New York, succeeded in positioning e-business as an organic concept -- a living, breathing way of doing business, not merely sales over the Internet. The concept is pervasive, extending to customer relationships, service, procurement and supply chain management.

Ms. Kohnstamm was one of the first marketing executives to invest heavily in Internet advertising. She also put IBM on the leading edge of Internet privacy issues.

Two years ago, before privacy statements became de rigueur for Internet companies, IBM staked out a leadership position by stating that the company wouldn't advertise on any Web site that didn't have an appropriate privacy policy.

In virtually every area of IBM's marketing programs, advertising and sports sponsorships, Ms. Kohnstamm has taken the lead in focusing the company's attention on the Internet.

"Web marketing is an increasingly bigger piece of the pie," she says of IBM's spending on Internet advertising and marketing. It now represents more than 10% of the company's whopping $760 million global marketing budget.

Ms. Kohnstamm is known for having consolidated IBM's sprawling agency roster when she came aboard in 1993. But she has deftly tapped the interactive capabilities of several Web agencies, including OgilvyOne and R/GA Interactive, both New York, and Modem Media, Westport, Conn. She's also leveraged the talent of IBM's growing base of in-house Web designers and integrators.

As IBM racked up $11 billion in global e-commerce transactions with its 45,000 business partners in 1999, Ms. Kohnstamm artfully created Internet marketing programs to tout this fact. Her leadership in relaunching last year helped boost sales at ShopIBM by more than 200% above pre-design levels. Ms. Kohnstamm's efforts to help IBM truly become an e-business can serve as a model for tech and non-tech marketers alike.

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