IBM's $100 mil PC effort links to corporate theme

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IBM Corp. this week starts a $100 million-plus global PC campaign that marks the most unified effort to tie product ads into the corporate brand campaign since Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide was signed on four years ago.

IBM's Personal Systems Group will use the "e-business tools" theme as its umbrella, complementing the broader "e-business" corporate advertising.

"We're a hardware division," said David Bradley, the division's VP-marketing. "Our job is to sell the tools" as part of IBM's broader mandate to sell the "solutions" of hardware, software and services.

The tool image recalls the theme of IBM's celebrated Charlie Chaplin PC ads, which in the early 1980s used the line "A tool for modern times."


The new campaign starts with an eight-page insert April 21 in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, USA Today and about a half-dozen major-market newspapers, moving next week into computer weeklies. A similar insert will run this week in Europe and Asia.

Mr. Bradley said the division will spend $40 million this quarter. The campaign is expected to run nine months to a year, with a budget likely to exceed $100 million out of IBM's annual $700 million global spending.

The campaign budget will be split fairly evenly between U.S. and non-U.S. media.

The bulk of the money will go into print ads featuring Personal Systems Group's 3Com Palm III-based WorkPad, ThinkPad notebooks, PCs, workstations, servers and network computers.

The division will piggyback on IBM's TV branding ads; a corporate spot featuring the new ThinkPad 600 breaks April 28.

ThinkPad also will get a separate campaign breaking late this month.

O&M, New York, is doing print, TV and outdoor ads, with OgilvyOne Worldwide handling a related Web campaign. Barry Blau & Partners, Wilton, Conn., is creating a direct-marketing drive starting in May.


The goal of aligning product ads with corporate branding ads is the holy grail of tech advertising. The campaign features b&w photography with the product as hero, giving an umbrella for Personal Systems' ads that ties into the corporate work.

The division's campaign, added Leo Suarez, program director-product marketing for mobile products, "closely shows proof points [tools to execute] on the messages of e-business. In doing those proof points, you can only do it by tying the products together."

Other IBM divisions will align advertising more with the brand campaign going forward, said Mr. Bradley, the former VP-marketing at Eastman Kodak Co.'s photo processing unit who joined IBM in December.

Copyright April 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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