IBM boots up $100 mil PC launch

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IBM Corp. fires off the first round of a $100 million global multimedia assault May 12 for NetVista, its sleek new brand of space-saving personal computers.

The campaign from Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, New York, for Big Blue's Personal Systems Group breaks with a four-page spread in USA Today introducing businesses and consumers to its next-generation desktop PCs.

The black NetVista computers sport an all-in-one design with a flat-panel monitor that IBM touts in a print ad headline as taking up "75% less space than an ugly computer."


The product's clutter-free design eliminates most cords and cables, not to mention a drab beige chassis.

"The goal of the campaign is to introduce, build awareness and generate consideration for a new brand of IBM desktop computer," said Scott Frank, IBM's Personal Systems Group director of worldwide integrated marketing communications.

Elegantly spare creative executions position the product as hero in an approach reminiscent of Apple Computer's ongoing campaign for iMac and iBook via TBWA/Chiat/Day, Playa del Rey, Calif.

High-impact wallscapes on the sides of buildings in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles emblazoned with the NetVista PC feature bold headlines, such as "Neat," "Work. Drool. Work." and "I Feel Pretty" are intended to evoke visceral reactions.

Headlines in the USA Today spread proclaim: "Computers change the world. Finally, the favor is returned." And "Meet NetVista." In creative, the computer is dramatically perched atop a white modular stand.

So is the campaign a poke at Apple?

"There really isn't any dig at Apple here. . . . We don't feel like we're on any copycat strategy at all," Mr. Frank said. "We just really believe that the industrial design and technical design on the product are very hot."

Mr. Frank said Apple's advertising clearly leverages its products' design attributes and "taps a voice." IBM's campaign, he said, promotes NetVista in a way that's "clean and thoughtful . . . it's an on-brand way of presenting the product in a superior way both inside and outside."

Dan Burrier, senior partner-creative director on the IBM business at Ogilvy, said NetVista's approach is an evolution of IBM's "Tools" campaign that broke two years ago.

Fashion photographer James Wojcik, known for his minimalism, directed the new spots.

The NetVista brand includes only desktops, but the company plans to eventually add workstations, network computers and even small servers to the line.


With the rollout of NetVista, IBM retires the Aptiva consumer brand of desktop PCs. Aptiva, however, will continue to be used in Asia-Pacific.

NetVista represents a new desktop PC platform for IBM to help it secure market leadership.

"What this really is, is a big roll of the dice for IBM," said Roger Kay, research manager, International Data Corp. "They're gambling on NetVista as a resurrection product for their desktops." The NetVista strategy borrows from IBM's ThinkPad approach, he added, typifying an edgy coolness.

IBM market share fell in this year's first quarter. IBM ranked fourth after Hewlett-Packard Co. with 8.6% of worldwide PC shipments. The company failed to make it into the top five vendors for U.S. PC shipments, according to IDC. "They have a lot invested in this, not just in terms of the dollars, but the entire PC business," Mr. Kay said.

Print ads hit in in-flight and business magazines, newsweeklies and trade magazines. Online banners also run heavily through early July.

TV executions break in mid-June in heavy rotation on network prime-time and cable TV and run through the end of the year. A joint initiative between IBM's PSG, corporate and global small and medium-size business divisions, the TV spots will build awareness for IBM's Web site ( and feature a variety of product solutions.

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