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
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
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.’