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Lotus ads bolster its image on Web

By Published on .

Lotus Development Corp. is launching an edgy, irreverent TV campaign, with an estimated $15 million in support through mid-January, to position the Internet also-ran as a leader of the Web.

The campaign is the first for Lotus from IBM Corp. agency Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide and was created by the all-star cast behind some of the most revered work for Apple Computer. The project marks a return to the creative side for Steve Hayden, the veteran BBDO creative who joined O&M in account management to run IBM's global account two years ago.

TAPPING IBM RESOURCES

The marketing push lets Lotus take advantage of the resources of IBM, while at the same time drawing a clear line between the brash software marketer and its corporate parent.

Three 30-second spots feature the caustic ranting of comic Dennis Leary. The message: Turn to Lotus to do business on the Web. "No kids, no chat rooms, no smiley faces." Mr. Leary says. "Just raw, in-your-face capitalism."

Lotus, acquired by IBM last year for $3.5 billion, moved its worldwide account in late September to O&M, New York.

The new ads confirm IBM's resolve to keep Lotus separate. The software company sent rough cuts to IBM Nov. 7 as "an FYI," said Kevin Powers, director of advertising and design, but "it's our decision to go with it."

There are still ties. A new spot in IBM's "Subtitles" brand campaign next month will feature Lotus as a reminder it is backed by deep pockets.

Lotus wants to build its image as an innovative business software marketer. The new campaign broke Nov. 10 and runs on network and cable TV through mid-January, using some $15 million in IBM TV inventory.

RECORD BUDGET

With its own budget, Lotus is expected next year to spend a record $40 million-to-$50 million globally on the TV campaign and a second in development, all to promote Internet business software.

In one spot, Mr. Leary mocks Internet users toying with IBM ThinkPads at a cybercafe. "You want to surf, move to Maui," he jeers. In a second, he talks about the irony of having a nice office when real work is done on the road.

The only product pitch is a closing super: "Work the Web. Domino. www.lotus.com." Domino is Lotus' key new Web software.

Web and print ads will provide product details. Print ads start in January, and Lotus' estimated global print budget of $70 million is unchanged.

Lotus' goal is to be perceived in the same league for business Web software as Microsoft Corp. and Netscape Communications Corp.

The campaign is "aimed at people who might turn the page if it was IBM," said Susan Westre, an O&M creative director in Paris.

ACCOUNT MOVED

Lotus, looking to draw on IBM's global resources, moved its account Sept. 28 to O&M, ending a long relationship with Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos, Boston.

"It was time to make a decision," said Ad Manager Steve Watson, who, like Mr. Powers, is a former Hill Holliday executive.

O&M agreed to create a separate team--"a drag and drop ad agency"--that wouldn't distract the New York office from IBM commitments.

The Lotus campaign is the first IBM work over which Mr. Hayden, O&M president of IBM brand services, has had creative control. For the new ads, he hastily reassembled a team he worked with on Apple while at BBDO West, Los Angeles.

It includes art director Susan Westre; copywriter Chris Wall, who left Microsoft Corp. agency Wieden & Kennedy, Amsterdam, recently to free-lance; director Joe Pytka; free-lance editor Adam Leibowitz; and free-lance media strategist Kelly Black, who oversaw Apple media at BBDO.

"Steve was the grand poobah creative director," said Ms. Westre, who believes O&M is underusing Mr. Hayden's creative talent by employing him officially as "an account guy."

Copyright November 1996, Crain Communications Inc.

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