CAMPAIGN INTERACTIVE: CASE STUDY/IBM. Why IBM chose traditional media to promote the benefits of e-business. Mairi Clark discovers how Ogilvy & Mather focused on press and TV to approach an Internet-wary audience

You’d think if anyone would know how to get business people interested in e-mail, IBM would. But anybody expecting innovative online advertising will be disappointed by the computer giant’s decision to concentrate on above-the-line marketing methods for its ’e-business’ campaign, which launched in the US in September with a four-page supplement in the Wall Street Journal.

You’d think if anyone would know how to get business people

interested in e-mail, IBM would. But anybody expecting innovative online

advertising will be disappointed by the computer giant’s decision to

concentrate on above-the-line marketing methods for its ’e-business’

campaign, which launched in the US in September with a four-page

supplement in the Wall Street Journal.



John Clark, Ogilvy & Mather’s account manager on IBM in the UK, says the

intention is to target people who are scared of the Internet - which

makes the Internet a pretty unlikely conduit. ’The aim is to educate

people and small businesses about the Net,’ he says. ’When you ask

companies who they would go to for Web advice, most say they don’t

know.’



The first thing the agency and the client wanted to do was educate the

people who were going to educate the public. O&M compiled a six-page

brochure explaining the strategic thinking behind the campaign. This was

sent out to every IBM staffer before the print teaser campaign was

unveiled. A series of ads with the letter e missing from the words were

placed in the national press at the start of November, telling readers

to look out for more ads later in the week.



The campaign was developed by O&M and OgilvyOne to get the public used

to the idea of e-business, using e as a slogan. This was the most

readily accepted part of the campaign, Clark explains. ’It’s a very

simple piece of design. Whereas the concept of ’e-business’ isn’t

copyrighted, only IBM can use the e symbol,’ he says.



One element of the campaign was to explain how small businesses could

use the Net. ’In our research we saw people using the Net as an online

catalogue, which they needn’t resort to. A small number of companies are

using the Net to make money or save money,’ Clark says.



The print campaign carries lengthy text and consists mainly of case

studies and facts. For example, the cost of processing a traditional

airline ticket is dollars 7, while the cost of processing an e-ticket is

dollars 1.



Clark explains: ’Research has shown that people will read lengthy copy

if it interests them. Some readers will read the whole ad, others will

just select snippets. It was very important for us to use local case

studies because people don’t want to read about someone doing something

in the US unless they are in the US. They want a company down the road

to do it.’



Just under half of IBM’s pounds 4 million UK spend is to go on the TV

campaign, which broke at the start of December. The ads, set in office

locations, continue the theme, with people discussing the Internet who

are unsure of what benefits it holds for them.



’The TV campaign reflects conversations I have overheard in offices.

People are aware of the Net, and maybe even see a reason for getting

online, but they are unsure of the process,’ Clark says.



However, for all the concentration on traditional media, the campaign

would not be complete without an online element, including Web banners

and a Website, the latter being a sub-site of the IBM corporate site.

The banners are placed strategically on sites business users might

visit, such as online newspapers and Internet service providers. The

banners, however, only forward the user through to the Website.



’If someone comes to us via the Net, then they are obviously pretty

clued up,’ Clark reasons. ’Most calls to the helpline are prompted by

the press ads. The operators on the helpline go through a fairly lengthy

questionnaire with respondents to the ad, which enables us to judge how

much they know and service their needs properly.’



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1 Job description: Digital marketing executive

Digital marketing executives oversee the online marketing strategy for their organisation. They plan and execute digital (including email) marketing campaigns and design, maintain and supply content for the organisation's website(s).