IBM hopes the ads, using the monosyllabic theme "Think," will broaden ThinkPad's image as a pricey machine for power users.
The campaign is critical: With ThinkPad, IBM for the first time moved into the No. 2 spot in the notebook market behind Toshiba Corp. IBM last year shipped 1 million notebooks, giving it 9.7% of the global market vs. Toshiba's 15.3%, estimates Computer Intelligence InfoCorp. IBM was far closer in the U.S., with 11.4% of the market vs. Toshiba's 12.1%.
ThinkPad, introduced in 1992, overnight gave then-ailing IBM an image for producing some of the industry's most coveted notebooks. That reputation continues with models like the 760, a top-of-the-line machine that can cost up to $7,500.
"The new campaign is really an evolution of our business and marketing strategy, designed to come up with products which are more affordable," said Marty Susz, director of worldwide advertising, IBM Personal Computer Co.
The campaign from Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, New York, will include business and computer publications, and airline and outdoor ads. ThinkPad gets TV coverage through the "Solutions" brand campaign.
$45 MIL BUDGET ESTIMATED
IBM and Ogilvy won't discuss budget except to say it's a record for ThinkPad. Based on tracking data from Adscope and other sources, that suggests ThinkPad spending this year will reach about $45 million.
About two-thirds of the budget will be spent outside the U.S., where the notebook market is growing faster. Louis Aversano, worldwide account supervisor at O&M, said that also reflects ThinkPad's strong international sales and a higher cost of buying appropriate magazines abroad.
The U.S. print effort begins March 27 in The Wall Street Journal and in ads starting to appear this week in Business Week, Time, Fortune, Forbes and computer titles including PC Magazine and InformationWeek. Outdoor advertising starts in June.
POWERBOOK TEAM ON BOARD
ThinkPad may be taking the mantle of power away from Apple Computer's PowerBook, which gained pop cachet with its innovative design and catchy "What's on your PowerBook?" advertising from BBDO Worldwide, Los Angeles.
Susan Westre, art director on the early PowerBook ads, and Ken Segall, another Apple veteran, are behind the new ThinkPad creative. Ms. Westre, in Paris, and Mr. Segall, in New York, are senior partners and worldwide creative directors at O&M.
Ads use a black-and-red motif drawn from the product design. When customers turn on new versions of the ThinkPad, they will see the word "Think" on the screens.
Ads also mention price, to change the perception all ThinkPads are expensive.