IBM's Kennedy, agency John McNeil Studio win top honors in ‘BtoB's' Best

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New York—John Kennedy, VP-corporate marketing with IBM Corp., was recognized as BtoB's Top Marketer of 2010 at BtoB's Best luncheon held today in Manhattan. Garnering top honors as Best in Show was John McNeil Studio, Berkeley, Calif., for its “The New Network Is Here” campaign on behalf of information technology and computer networking company Juniper Networks.

Kennedy was tapped for BtoB's annual top marketer recognition for leading IBM's “Smarter Planet” campaign this year, an initiative showcasing the company's efforts to create global solutions in such areas as healthcare, transportation and energy. He also was recognized for his work in helping transition the company from its traditional IT focus to one concentrated on higher-value solutions and services.

The “Smarter Planet” campaign, launched in 2008, evolved this year from a discussion on technological solutions to a showcase of tangible evidence of how industries, enterprises and cities are working to improve the quality of life.

“It's an honor to accept this award for the entire IBM team,” Kennedy said, noting that the campaign transcended marketing.

“ ‘Smarter Planet' has been a privilege and a rare chance to work on an effort that isn't a marketing campaign but a point of view on the world,” he said. “The IBM team will reflect back on this as a real height of our careers.”

Juniper Networks “The New Network Is Here” campaign aimed to compare the company's Junos network operating system, which spans routing, switching and security platforms, with its competitors, most prominently market leader Cisco Systems (although Cisco was never mentioned by name in the ads).

Juniper Networks used teaser ads in The Wall Street Journal to drive prospects to a website that presented an old, worn-out computer bemoaning its inability to equal what a Junos-equipped system could do.

“While a campaign based on comparisons is risky, in this case, you can't really avoid it,” said John McNeil, president and chief creative officer with John McNeil Studio.

The integrated campaign also boosted the Juniper Networks brand. To help, John McNeil Studio devised and installed a marketing-cum-art installation in a New York public park, featuring a large, clear cube filled with a jumble of old terminals and wires.

Dubbed “The Hairball,” it represented antique technology, and garnered plenty of buzz, McNeil said.

“Juniper has great products, but not a well-known brand,” McNeil said. “They're a strong second, but just a strong second, and needed more than great technology.”

Overall, BtoB's Best honored 25 marketing executives and 43 campaigns in such categories as integrated programs, print, direct mail, TV, online video, online only, out-of-home and trade shows, among other categories.

During a question-and-answer period, most of the Top Marketer honorees said their budgets would remain relatively stable for 2011, reflecting a wait-and-see attitude about the economy. But there were exceptions.

“We cut back too much this year; but, in planning for 2011, we'll increase our marketing budget by 50%,” said Cynthia Green, chief marketing and sales officer with DuPont. “We'll be big on TV, print ads and e-marketing about megatrends that affect out customers. We're going to make up for lost time.”

Tom Haas, CMO with Siemens Corp. rued his cutbacks as well.

“We cut most on print and went into digital marketing, but I think that was a mistake,” Haas said. “We'll readjust that in 2011.”

Here is a complete list of BtoB's Best Marketers, as well as BtoB's Best Creative winners, runners-up and honorable mentions for 2010.

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