IBM takes e-business to vertical industries

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IBM Corp. last month took its e-business campaign deeper into vertical industry segments with the launch of print ads in automotive, banking and retail publications.

The campaign, with the tagline "E-business is the game. Play to win," is an extension of IBM’s overall e-business campaign that broke in January during National Basketball Association game broadcasts and was followed by print ads in general business and IT publications. Other elements of the vertical campaign include online and events.

What’s new about the campaign is the focus on traditional industries—not high-tech businesses—in which IBM’s e-business software is used for critical business applications.

"E-business itself as a technology is more and more interrelated and locked into the development of business strategies," said Tim Eldridge, executive group director at Ogilvy & Mather, New York, which developed the campaign.

"The business strategy community increasingly is recognizing the role technology plays when they build their business strategies," Eldridge said. "What IBM does best is e-business."

Specific applications

To showcase the success that IBM brings to e-business efforts, the campaign zeroes in on specific applications for specific companies in vertical industries. For example, one print ad running in auto publications such as Automotive Industries and Automotive News addresses the use of IBM software in product lifecycle management. The copy reads, "It’s e-business. It’s transforming the auto business. Shortening cycle times. Reducing total costs. Helping manufacturers, suppliers and designers like Johnson Controls and Toyota integrate operations end to end."

Ads focusing on banking applications are running in Banking Strategies, US Banker and American Banker. Ads spotlighting retail applications are running in Executive Technology, Stores and Chain Store Age.

Banking ads feature IBM services that enhance customer support and loyalty programs, while retail ads address the need to integrate the different ways companies can have relationships with customers, from retail stores to kiosks to online stores.

"We are trying to continue to grow awareness of and appreciation of the depth of expertise IBM has with these industries at a strategic level," Eldridge said.

The campaign is aimed at department heads and senior executives in charge of lines of business. The campaign’s budget is undisclosed.

Vertical increase

Eldridge said that while IBM treats the IT community and the business community as equal halves of a whole, "I think you will see an increase in expenditure in the vertical arena."

IBM reported net income of $56 million, including $1.4 billion in incremental charges, for the second quarter of 2002, compared with net income of $2 billion for second quarter last year. Revenue for the period was $20 billion, down 7% from the same period last year.

In a report issued following IBM’s earnings release, investment firm Goldman Sachs said weak IT spending remains IBM’s biggest obstacle, and it does not expect a return to normal spending levels until 2003.

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