Real-Life Hoop Stars Play for Team 'Infrastructure'

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NEW YORK ( -- If sports are a metaphor for life, then IBM Corp. is banking on basketball as an allegory for e-business.

WPP Group's Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, New York, has produced a series of six spots for IBM that begin running Jan. 13 featuring a group of former National Basketball Association stars playing for IBM's team, "Infrastructure."

The TV-only campaign includes Moses Malone, Xavier McDaniel, Muggsy Bogues, Detlef Schrempf and Bill Laimbeer as the players, and George Gervin as the coach.

Between them, the group of NBA players holds four NBA world championships. Mr. Malone and Mr. Gervin have been enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame.

Infrastructure vs. Crash
In each of the six spots, the Infrastructure team features the five players -- Mainframe, Middleware, PC, Linux and Firewall -- going up against the "Crash" team -- Hacker, Virus, Spike, Downtime and Spam.

The coach and the players interact in each spot to deliver the idea of integration. The spots adhere to Ogilvy's recent strategy with IBM, using humor to convey a complex message.

The new commercials kick off on National Footbal League playoff broadcasts and will continue with playoff games on Jan. 19, 20 and 27. The introductory spot, "The Game," introduces the players and establishes what IBM calls the importance of a fundamental strategy and infrastructure.

The other spots develop into a campaign designed to portray that e-business is not just a game, but the game, with no off-season.

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