The U.S. Open in New York runs from Aug. 28 through Sept. 10. This year's tournament marks IBM's sixth year as sponsor of the event, which the company uses to tout its hardware, software and services to run e-businesses. IBM also created and runs the official Open Web site (usopen.org).
IBM refers to the key target of the multimillion-dollar sports marketing program as "Next Generation," 24-to-34-year-olds who are thoroughly familiar with the Web and will be future purchasers, as well as key decisionmakers and implementers of technology in their workplaces.
TARGET: THE TECHNO-SAVVY
"These are young, techno-savvy people around the world interested in the Web; they use the Web in their daily business," said Eli Primrose-Smith, VP-worldwide Olym-pic and sports sponsorships for IBM. Ms. Primrose-Smith said IBM's implementation of the U.S. Open Web site is an example of how sports properties can become e-businesses. IBM has a diverse portfolio of sports sponsorships, including the All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club's Wimbledon tournament, the Professional Golfers' Association of America and the National Hockey League, as well as the Olympic Games.
Creative from Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, New York, and OgilvyOne, the agency's interactive arm, includes TV spots on CBS Aug. 27 through Sept. 10, and cable's USA Network Aug. 28 through Sept. 10; print in Sports Illustrated and Tennis Magazine; wallscapes; airport dioramas; and online ads. One ad depicts a tennis player arguing with an official, and the copy identifies the usopen.org site as an IBM e-business.
IBM wants its young, cool target to connect viscerally with the creative and turn to a re-invigorated IBM as a trusted ally in Web endeavors. IBM recently has become more aggressive in targeting Web producers and others involved in virtually every aspect of a Web-based business, highlighting the differences between the younger and older generations.
For example, a TV spot now running touts the ShopIBM Web site and humorously depicts the culture clash between Leon, a suit-and-tie guy struggling to make e-business work for him, and a young turk who shows how IBM servers and services make it easy. That's the latest in a series of moves IBM has made in the past year to refocus its demographic target and make its image more relevant.
"We want to show how to use the power of information technology and the Web to really bring your customers closer and to get your information out to customers," Ms. Primrose-Smith said.
IBM has added a new wireless capability for this year's U.S. Open, so that tennis fans with Wireless-Application-Protocol- or WAP-enabled phones and handheld devices can receive real-time information and updates via the Web site. Content and methods for reporting scoring also have been beefed up, and a Webcam will follow the court action. IBM's Wimbeldon site experienced nearly 1 million hits per minute during the June-July tournament, Ms. Primrose-Smith said.
IBM is quickly ramping up its final sponsorship of the Olympic Games with creative by Ogilvy, currently in production. It is expected to break in the U.S. the week of Sept. 11, just prior to the opening of the Games in Sydney Sept. 15.
Creative was shot around the world and will flag a host of IBM services designed to snare young decisionmakers.