IT VIEW

By MARK MASON, campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 03 September 1999 12:00AM

Most ads in the IT sector aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on. The vast majority of advertisers seem to believe that as long as their ads are no worse than the dross their competitors deliver, it is fair and reasonable to run ads that are noticed by no-one. That’s why it’s so good to see a few really excellent treatments - client/agency teams working hard to understand the issues, and coming out with really strong, effective messages and campaigns.

Most ads in the IT sector aren’t worth the paper they’re printed

on. The vast majority of advertisers seem to believe that as long as

their ads are no worse than the dross their competitors deliver, it is

fair and reasonable to run ads that are noticed by no-one. That’s why

it’s so good to see a few really excellent treatments - client/agency

teams working hard to understand the issues, and coming out with really

strong, effective messages and campaigns.



IBM has come a long way since the heady days of its Chaplinesque

campaigns of 20 years ago. It’s lost some of that smug arrogance, as

well as enough staff to populate a major town. It has become more

customer-focused and less self-obsessed, which comes across most clearly

in its advertising. In particular, the e-commerce campaign, now running

for well over a year and widely despised by its competitors, has helped

IBM steal most of the e-cake, leaving everyone else to fight over the

crumbs.



Its current campaign stands out, looks cool, and makes the e-business

stuff look like it’s really happening. Nice work.



The latest showcase from our friends at Hewlett Packard is a different

kettle of fish altogether. Beautifully crafted ads - real works of art -

but absolutely no value as advertising. Frankly, the concept is weird,

the copy is bizarre, and the message ...? We asked a seminar full of IT

marcoms managers whether they’d stopped to read any of these ads - not

one of them had. This campaign won’t build brand or help sell product.

Great art is no substitute for good thinking.



Compare the HP campaign to this little number from Compaq. Similar

product lines, similar target audiences, completely different approach.

Compaq’s 30-second TV commercial is no less beautifully crafted, but all

artistic effort is focused on delivering one powerful message: that

Compaq is not just a PC manufacturer. The ad, which features a Compaq

hole-in-the-wall cash machine, will do a great brand-building job in

Compaq’s key financial markets.



Not strictly IT, but I love this campaign for Sony showing ’the perfect

recording for your perfect place’. It reminds me of the feeling I get as

I hurl myself down a snowy mountain with my CD player pumping out

brain-boiling music. It’s just what these things are for, and the TV and

press campaign does a great job of building that emotional bridge to the

ideal target buyer. They’re all beautifully shot, but the press ads are

a little let down by the copy, which doesn’t have the same heart.



The new campaign for portables from Toshiba is a real

disappointment.



The previous campaign (bizarrely but craftily carving notebook PCs out

of cheese, aspirin, wood, and sardine tins) ran for years. It delivered

strong brand messages that added value in a market that’s fiercely

competitive and where product differences are cosmetic. This new

campaign is completely missable (despite the large shouty headline) and

utterly forgettable. The ad is as poor as dozens of its competitors who

sell similar products more cheaply. If they keep this up, people will

stop believing that a Tosh is worth the extra dosh, and their margins

and share will suffer.



This campaign from Excite is as cunning as it is charming. If there was

any doubt that strong, relevant reader reward builds brand, this should

boot it into touch. It does a great job of demonstrating that any twit

can use the internet to spend wads of cash on holidays and shares. (Of

course, what they don’t tell you is that you could get sacked or gunned

down by a mass murderer in the process). There’s plenty of suspense and

humour in these well-crafted ads. Great campaign - love it.



And the moral of the story? Don’t bugger about with your brand.



Compaq

Project: Compaq

Agency: BMP Claydon Heeley

Writer: John Webster

Directors: Mario Cavalli, Dominic Griffiths, Mic Graves

Production company: Aka Pizazz

Excite

Project: Excite

Agency: Lowe & Partners SMS, New York

Writer: Amy Borkowsky

Art director: Peter Cohen

Director: Henry Holtzman

Production company: MPH Films

Hewlett Packard

Project: Business PC Organisation campaign

Agency: Publicis & Halriney, San Francisco

Writer: Keith Klein

Art director: Steve Luker

Designer: Giles Dunn

Toshiba

Project: Portables

Agency: Brann

Writer: Lizzie Chrystall

Art director: Dan Plotkin

IBM

Project: e-culture

Agency: Ogilvy & Mather

Writers: Brent Heindl and Josh Tavlin

Art director: Simon Lewis

Sony

Project: Sony mini disc

Agency: DDB

Writer: Simon Learman

Art director: Brian Fraser

Director of TV ads: Jake Scott



This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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