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How does a company successfully balance brand heritage with a changing business strategy? Ask IBM Corp. The 81-year-old company has spent the past several years moving from technology product supplier to on-demand service provider-all while still investing in and protecting its well-established traditional tech image.

This past year, IBM further integrated its technology and services image as it pushed broad marketing goals forward and spent ad dollars on still-nascent media.

"It's not only about how IBM helps businesses, but also about how IBM helps the world," said Deirdre Bigley, VP-worldwide advertising and interactive. "We wanted to make sure there was a bigness to the IBM brand."

IBM targeted its customers not only at work but also at home, with sweeping ad campaigns, including "The Other IBM," an eight-month effort to highlight Business Consulting Services (BCS), and "Help Desk," an ongoing campaign to show how on demand computing solves real problems and touches real people. (IBM is recognized in this issue for producing the year's best integrated campaign. See page 30.)

For 11 years, Ogilvy Worldwide has been IBM's sole agency partner, handling consolidated media buying, creative, interactive and other specialty marketing work.

"IBM as a brand defined what technology companies are; and they did it for decades, not just years," said Chris Wall, co-chief creative officer of Ogilvy, New York, and longtime executive on the IBM account. "Adding capabilities like BCS is business transformation consulting, and it's usually some transformation enabled by technology."

IBM this year experimented with marketing through emerging media such as blogging and podcasting. The company added a permanent blogger to the on-demand Web site and used podcasting during the U.S. Open to showcase the tennis matches along with IBM technology supporting the tournament. IBM also joined National Geographic to jointly support the Genographic Project, a five-year DNA global survey of the human population.

Thanks to positive feedback, Bigley promised more media mix trials in the future. "Going into next year, you'll see us take it even further," she said. "You just have to set aside a certain part of your budget to do it," she said.

Other changes at IBM included the sale of its PC division, most known for its ThinkPad laptops, to Chinese PC giant Lenovo, and the departure of Lisa Baird, VP-worldwide integrated marketing communications. Baird left IBM in September to become senior VP-marketing for the National Football League. Her successor at IBM has not yet been named.

Wall said some of his favorite work of the year came from the Help Desk campaign. He said he liked the way the campaign took IBM's decadelong tone of being empathetic with its business customers' problems and added a Walter Mitty fantasy point of view.

It seems to have worked. Bigley said that in IBM's nine-country customer studies, this year's work garnered some of the highest marks of any IBM advertising. Awareness also tested higher, rising so significantly that "the closest competition isn't even close anymore," Bigley said.

-Beth Snyder Bulik

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