Ogilvy & Mather North America does more than move the needle for its clients -- it moves atoms.
To produce its groundbreaking film "A Boy and His Atom" for client IBM Corp., Ogilvy's creative team worked closely with IBM researchers at their lab in San Jose, Calif., using a scanning tunneling microscope, which takes pictures of atoms.
The effort was part of a broader social-media campaign Ogilvy created this year, called "IBMblr," designed to showcase the company's $6 billion-a-year R&D division and its technology innovations -- from cognitive computing to neurosynaptic chips. The 90-second movie received more than 3.2 million YouTube views in the first week and holds a Guinness World Record for the world's smallest stop-motion film.
More importantly, it helped broaden awareness of the IBM brand, said Ann Rubin, VP-branded content and global creative at IBM. Ogilvy's film and the social campaign "allowed us to reach an audience beyond our traditional core audience. Even if you're not buying software or services, you are impacted by these technology innovations and what IBM is offering the world," Ms. Rubin said.
"There are many people on the Ogilvy IBM team who consider themselves IBMers, which is a key driver behind the success of the partnership," she added. "They are in it every step of the way to help us drive our business. They are really good at seeing the big picture while getting the details perfect."
It's this kind of innovation, commitment and deep immersion into its clients' businesses that make Ogilvy & Mather North America Ad Age's BtoB Agency of the Year.
"We celebrate our culture and the principles David Ogilvy built the company around -- we love going in and figuring out the culture of our client," said John Seifert, chairman of Ogilvy & Mather North America.
Beyond IBM, Ogilvy counts as clients b-to-b powerhouse brands including American Express OPEN, CDW Corp., DuPont, GE Capital, SAP, Siemens Corp. and UPS.
In 2013, it added eight b-to-b accounts, including agency-of-record relationships with Caterpillar, Comcast Business, Grainger, Huawei and iShares, helping to boost its b-to-b revenue by 4% this year over 2012.
For technology-solutions provider CDW Corp., Ogilvy developed a humorous campaign called "People Who Get IT," featuring NBA star Charles Barkley. The push, which included TV, print, online and events, launched in 2011 and added Mr. Barkley in early 2012.
In the ads, he's hired as the IT guy at fictitious company Gordon & Taylor to help the company win the league basketball championship. While Mr. Barkley doesn't know a thing about IT, CDW does. So he hires CDW to handle the technology, and he focuses on winning.
"For the initial pitch, they wanted an idea that would be relevant across all product lines and present a unique take on how they serve customers," Mr. Seifert said. "We helped them understand they are in this unique position of really understanding how companies work, and how they deal with technology challenges. That unique understanding CDW has is portrayed in the Charles Barkley ads."
"Few agencies are as creative as Ogilvy," said Neal Campbell, senior VP-chief marketing officer. "When I came to CDW, the 'People Who Get IT' brand campaign was in place, but we blew it out when we incorporated Charles Barkley into the ads," he said. "Each iteration has enhanced CDW's brand perception, showcasing our extensive experience deploying technology solutions for its customers -- including major professional sports facilities."
For CDW's "Winning on the Road" campaign tied to the NCAA March Madness basketball championship last year, Ogilvy partnered with Fox Sports' "West Coast Customs" reality TV show to create a 48-foot Technoliner bus tricked out with the latest CDW technology, from a stadium-grade video system with a 14-foot retractable screen to a state-of-the-art data center.
The bus toured the country, offering IT buyers a fully geeked-out ride, and ended up at the NCAA Final Four Championship at the Georgia Dome Atlanta on April 8.
The campaign also included TV, print and online ads, and a website where visitors could learn more about CDW technology.
Following the campaign, CDW's IT solutions sales were up 10.0% year-over-year, outpacing forecasted category growth of 5.7%. Those exposed to the campaign were 13.3% more likely to agree with the statement that "CDW is a leading national IT solutions provider" than those in the control group.