IBM Launches “People” Campaign

IBM is following up on its product-specific “Codernauts” advertising campaign with an effort to showcase client solutions from across the IT giant’s divisions.

New creatives in the “e-Business Innovation” campaign feature thumbnails of IBM employees, the divisions in which they work — e-consulting or servers, for instance — and work they’ve done for particular clients.

In the online executions, the thumbnail pictures are animated. Clicking on the ad brings up a landing page with still more animated heads, and links to case studies.

Copy for the creatives describes the importance of the human element even in Big Blue’s tech-heavy work: “It takes people to make it happen. Smart people who innovate, working with people who execute. From business to consulting to infrastructure integration, that real-world know-how is the IBM difference.”

Spending was not disclosed in the work.

Designed by IBM agency Ogilvy & Mather, the ads aren’t the first from IBM to center on its employees in an effort to dodge the image of a faceless, corporate monolith — an image which has plagued the company for much of its past history.

However, while previous campaigns focused generally on the tech giant’s Global Services division, the new effort covers company-wide solutions and personnel.

“The objective, as it has been for all our other ‘people’ campaigns, is to put a real name and face behind a broad set of capabilities,” said IBM spokesman John Cukovinsky. “But our strengths … are our geographic diversity and our diversified areas of business. This has enabled us to post strong results in a down economy, and the new campaign is one of the ways of showcasing that diversity.”

The new work has a second goal as well. By reaching a targeted audience of business decision makers — the IT managers, CIOs and CTOs of the world — with a highlight of work done by a specific IBM employee for a particular client, the ads are a variant of the case study creative often used by large consulting firms.

“It’s designed to reach a target audience of business decision makers, but with a more specific message than just a general statement of capabilities,” Cukovinsky said. “It tells about who our employees have helped, and what they’ve have accomplished with a particular customer.”

But by introducing the faces and names of IBM employees, Big Blue is hoping to take the tried-and-true case study approach a step further.

“The ads are designed to take into account the general concerns a customer might have, such as ‘I know how to conduct e-business … but who’s actually going do the work?’,” he added. The ads are “designed to get down to a level of detail that resonates with decision makers. That sets us apart from the general advertising that other IT companies do.”

The campaign broke earlier this month with a four-page insert in the Wall Street Journal, and will continue throughout the year in print and online at business and IT trades, mainstream dailies, and vertical publications. In the latter case, creatives would be targeted to the appropriate industries, which currently includes manufacturing and banking.

Some 20 variants of the “Innovation” ads have been created to date, though the company is considering adding more.

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