The tightly integrated brand campaign-including print, Web and outdoor ads, and direct mail-steers the audience to the Web sites of IBM e-business customers, offering a firsthand look at the tech companies' capabilities.
"IBM is making e-business work on a global scale . . . [but] it's not easy to touch and feel the stuff that IBM does," said Steve Hayden, president-IBM worldwide brand services at Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, New York. "This is a way, by using the actual examples, that anybody can experience what IBM is doing. Check out the Web site. Test-drive what we mean by e-business."
The campaign, created by O&M and its interactive unit, OgilvyOne, will launch in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and business and lifestyle magazines, with Web ads following in mid-September.
IBM's biggest outdoor buy since it consolidated its account at O&M in 1994 starts in October. IBM is considering doing similar customer-themed TV spots in the fourth quarter. The campaign will begin to go global later this year.
"It really does prove that IBM is a `solutions' company," said Maureen McGuire, VP-worldwide marketing communications. "These are real companies that are using e-business to get a competitive edge in their business."
A BROAD ASSAULT
The new campaign is part of a broad assault; IBM this year will devote some $500 million of its estimated $600 million budget to campaigns with an e-business message. Ms. McGuire said the 1999 global budget will be "close to" this year's budget.
Ads in the campaign just breaking feature various customers, including Motorola, Borders, Viacom's startrek.com and outdoor products maker Recreational Equipment Inc., as well as IBM sports-sponsorship partners such as the U.S. Open.
Clicking a banner ad labeled
"e-outdoors" launches a 30-second commercial that plays while the REI Web site (www.rei.com) loads; the commercial features REI's Web manager explaining his Web challenge and IBM's role.
Said Todd "Turbo" Watson, IBM program manager for Internet advertising: "We want to convey through the mere experience that we understand the medium."
100 SITES SHOW MARK
The featured sites are among 100 that display IBM's signature "circle e" e-business mark. By yearend, Ms. McGuire said, she hopes 750 customer sites will display the mark.
The list of featured companies contains some curious names; Motorola, for example, has been struggling. Ms. McGuire defended the list, saying IBM is featuring customers that have moved key business processes online using IBM products and services.
The strength of IBM's overall business and image, she adds, also overshadows concerns consumers may have about troubles in IBM's own PC business.
IBM's share of voice has fallen dramatically as rivals have been swept up in the tech ad boom; it is now second to the $900 million co-op and ad budget of Intel Corp.
"We're getting the effect that we need in the marketplace," Ms. McGuire said. "It's not by advertising that you rule the world."