IBM sends storage professionals on online scavenger hunt

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In an effort to engage storage system decision-makers, IBM Corp. this spring rolled out an online campaign called “IBM Storage Scavenger Hunt Game” thatsent IT users scrambling around the Web to find clues to free fictitious IT characters from an online storage maze.

The campaign, developed by OgilvyOne New York, included banner ads, e-mail, online video and a landing page.

“It was a really exciting campaign and demonstrated IBM pushing themselves to the next level,” said Jeanniey Mullen, executive director and senior partner, worldwide e-mail marketing at OgilvyOne. “IBM had been experimenting with new campaigns around storage and wanted to reach storage system decision-makers in a way that would be fun and engaging.”

So IBM worked with OgilvyOne to develop the campaign, featuring IT characters Ned and Gil, who have appeared in IBM TV spots.

Banner ads and e-mails featured a short video clip in which Ned and Gil issued a call for help to IT users.

“Is anyone out there?” says Ned, in a video that appears to be shot from a security camera. “My associate Gil and I have been lost in this maze of storage devices for five days now. … Could someone find us, please?”

The e-mail and banner ads direct users to a landing page, where they are given the first clue in an online scavenger hunt to free Ned and Gil from the storage maze.

The first clue was a hidden URL in the HTML coding of the landing page intended to lead users to a map to help Ned and Gil get out of the maze.

However, within the first 24 hours, the agency discovered a problem with the game that turned into a benefit for IBM, resulting in a higher level of user engagement.

“No one was able to find the hidden link,” Mullen said. “Within the first day, users went to the IBM Web site and created their own user forums, trying to find out who had found the link.”

In the first two days, there were more than 300 posts concerning the first clue.

“We had to modify the e-mail copy and landing page copy in real time to make sure users would be motivated to continue,” Mullen added.

The second clue was a password that unlocked a PDF map, and the third clue was a link to a landing page congratulating users in a video in which Ned and Gil are freed from the storage maze.

At the end of the game, IBM tried to engage users further by asking them if they were interested in talking to a sales rep about IBM storage system solutions.

“People were truly engaged in the campaign,” Mullen said. “It was the right target audience, and they were interested in solving this.”

She said the campaign received click rates that were four to five times higher than the average for e-mail campaigns, and click rates that were twice as high as average banner ad campaigns.

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