IBM Launches ThinkPad Campaign

IBM Corp. is set to unveil a new campaign that aims to promote its ThinkPad laptops by showcasing their use by luminaries in small business and the arts and sciences.

The print campaign, which begins Tuesday, also is timed to coincide with the launch of Armonk, New York-based IBM’s ThinkPad T30, the latest in its high-end T Series.

Designed by the WPP Group’s Ogilvy & Mather, the first ads will show New York City restaurateur Keith McNally and planetary scientist Jill Tarter — best known as the director of the Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence Institute. Later ads will feature Jesse Sheidlower, principal North America editor for the Oxford English Dictionary; Marcia Kilgore, creator of Bliss Spas; and ReganBooks/HarperCollins Publisher Judith Regan.

The subjects are shown using their ThinkPads in their offices or workplaces, in an effort meant to demonstrate that well-respected celebrities make use of the laptop in their everyday lives. To capture the effect, IBM said it sent a photographer to shadow the subjects as they went about their daily routines.

McNally, for instance, is shown working at a table at his restaurant Pastis, while Tarter is pictured working outside of her cabin, near the Arecibo radio telescope research facility in Puerto Rico.

The ads use the tagline, “Where do you do your best thinking?”

The two-month-long campaign, which will run in business dailies and personal finance, small business and lifestyle magazines, expands on a current advertising trend among PCs and consumer Internet devices. In recent ads, computer and PDA makers have been focusing less on technical specifics than the tasks that one can do with the machine.

For instance, Palm has for some time been promoting its line of PDAs by highlighting the sorts of applications that the devices can run. Gateway , meanwhile, is showcasing a PC configuration designed to appeal to the music lover, while AT&T Wireless is running ads showing off several uses for its mMode service.

IBM, for its part, is taking the concept one step further — presenting not just a variety of applications, but a variety of celebrities using the product in different ways.

“Through the lens of these interesting, successful people, we wanted to demonstrate how IBM innovates to provide a better ownership experience, and that anybody in business — no matter what business they’re in or what job they have — can use the ThinkPad’s innovative technology, like integrated wireless and security features, to get things done anytime, anywhere,” said Rich Fennessy, vice president of marketing for IBM’s Personal Computing Division. “The ads support our renewed commitment to delivering affordable, valuable e-business solutions, particularly to small businesses, like the ones profiled in this campaign.”

The campaign for ThinkPads will be one of the last from Big Blue before it implements a company-wide branding strategy revolving around e-business. The technology giant is devoting about $350 million — the balance of its 2002 ad budget — to the multi-media, worldwide campaign, which will use the tagline “E-Business is the Game. Play to Win.”

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