IBM'S NEW PC ADS TOUT 'SOLUTIONS,' NOT THE PRODUCT: $10 MIL GLOBAL CAMPAIGN PLAYS DOWN TECH ASPECTS

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IBM Corp.'s new $10 million global PC campaign emphasizes "solutions" rather than product, putting the division in sync with its parent company's positioning.

The shift represents a recognition by IBM that its competitive advantage is not in price, where it can be undercut by rivals-especially direct sellers like Dell Computer Corp.-but in delivering a package of product and services.

The new campaign plays down the product specs common in PC ads and won't run in mass-circulation PC magazines. Ads from Ogilvy & Mather, New York, broke May 15 in The Wall Street Journal. Four-page gatefolds begin appearing this week in business titles and computer trades, including Business Week, Forbes, Inc., PC Week and InformationWeek.

"Instead of having a whole raft of publications, what we are doing is concentrating on a few publications" to get more continuity, said Michael Paterson, worldwide man-agement supervisor at O&M.

AVOIDING BIG PC BOOKS

The campaign targets senior management and technology executives in medium and large companies. Marty Susz, worldwide director of communications for the PC division, said IBM isn't buying mass-circulation computer magazines because it concluded other media could deliver the "value/solutions" message more efficiently.

The campaign will expand into global markets in coming months.

The global campaign, supplanting earlier business PC and server ads, is estimated at more than $10 million through yearend. Mr. Susz said IBM's business PC spending this year will be split evenly between this campaign and an effort for the ThinkPad notebook line.

The campaign introduces IBM SystemCare, a package of products, services and financing offered through computer resellers. Future ads will promote strategic themes, including PC manageability, innovative technology and customized solutions. The campaign probably will incorporate new product ads using a similar look, Mr. Susz said.

Jennifer Friedberg, senior partner-worldwide account director, said IBM and the agency have tried to define the role and strengths of each medium. Print ads offer the big picture, while IBM steers customers to a revamped Web site (www.us.pc.

ibm.com) to get tech specs.

The campaign reflects IBM's intense interest in marketing integration. Mr. Susz early this year added Web and promotion to his advertising responsibility. He said that gives him a consolidated budget and makes it easier to shift money between advertising and promotion.

IBM's emphasis on service and support plays into the business PC market's interest in the total cost of ownership; the cost of a PC is far less than the expense of maintaining it. But IBM's ads shift the debate from cost of ownership to what IBM PCs can do to make customers more competitive.

The launch ad states: "Rather than just focus on hot specs (which we have plenty of), we'd also like to talk about how you can optimize your personal computing assets."

Big Blue's PC division has rebounded from troubles earlier this decade, but IBM still follows in a market it once dominated. It had the fastest growth among major U.S. PC brands in the first quarter, but trailed Compaq Computer Corp., Packard Bell NEC and red-hot Dell with an 8.7% share. Globally, IBM had an 8.5%

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