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
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
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.
Agency: BMP Claydon Heeley
Writer: John Webster
Directors: Mario Cavalli, Dominic Griffiths, Mic Graves
Production company: Aka Pizazz
Agency: Lowe & Partners SMS, New York
Writer: Amy Borkowsky
Art director: Peter Cohen
Director: Henry Holtzman
Production company: MPH Films
Project: Business PC Organisation campaign
Agency: Publicis & Halriney, San Francisco
Writer: Keith Klein
Art director: Steve Luker
Designer: Giles Dunn
Writer: Lizzie Chrystall
Art director: Dan Plotkin
Agency: Ogilvy & Mather
Writers: Brent Heindl and Josh Tavlin
Art director: Simon Lewis
Project: Sony mini disc
Writer: Simon Learman
Art director: Brian Fraser
Director of TV ads: Jake Scott