|IBM ads seek to assure ThinkPad customers about the pending Lenovo deal.
Print ads appearing today in The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times part of a larger effort to dispel the perception that the IBM name and standard of quality will change under the new Lenovo brand because IBM executives and systems will remain active participants.
The ads carry the theme "ThinkPad now. And ThinkPad always."
In early December, IBM agreed to sell to Lenovo, a Chinese computer company, its PC division, while still retaining an 18% stake. The new Lenovo will be headquartered in New York and led by IBM executive Stephen Ward.
Meeting with large customers
IBM executives have been meeting with large-sized business customers to answer questions and explain the details of the deal, but created the print ads, as well as direct and Internet marketing, to address the concerns of smaller customers.
"When we talk directly to our customers, they get it," said Deepak Advani, IBM's vice president of worldwide strategy and proposed chief marketing officer of Lenovo. "Running print ads is a way to effectively reach a much broader audience. We really wanted to talk to users of PCs that really love the ThinkPad product."
Steve Baker, an analyst with NPD Group, said print ads like this are fairly common in the technology industry after mergers and acquisitions. "It's pretty de riguer as far as what you do; they use print ads in places like the Times to go out and explain with a litany of why this isn't going to affect business," he said.
The print ad also directs consumers to a Web site (www.ibm.com/alwaysthinkpad) that includes customer testimonials and comment on the predicted success of Lenovo and IBM together.
Product advertising for ThinkPad on TV and other media will continue unchanged. In fact, Mr. Advani said, IBM has just begun running new ThinkPad TV work that takes the same tone as previous work, focusing on innovative features of the laptop, such as a fingerprint reader for security and its great design.
Ogilvy relationship intact
WPP Group's Ogilvy & Mather, New York, created both sets of advertising. When asked how that relationship may change under the new Lenovo brand and joint leadership, Mr. Advani said, "When we become the new Lenovo, we need to decide what to do with our agencies, but the experience we've had with Ogilvy over the last 18 months has been outstanding. We haven't made a decision yet, but we're very pleased with our partnership with them."