Ogilvy Turns It ‘On’ for IBM

NEW YORK IBM seeks to recast itself via Ogilvy & Mather’s latest global campaign that focuses on the client’s “On Demand Business” offering, a mix of hardware, software and consulting services.

The campaign features two TV spots that focus on discussions between office workers who use rapid-fire dialogue.

In one commerical called “Off Meeting,” employees discuss where a particular project went wrong. Among their excuses: “It was an off week,” “An off quarter” and “It got off to a bad start.” When someone suggests that a solution to the problem might be “off site,” the boss replies, “That’s awful.” A voiceover states, “Need some insight? On demand consulting from IBM.”

A second spot shows two co-workers heading to their cars in a parking garage when they are stopped by higher-ups. “What about the rollout?” the bosses ask. “We’re on it,” they say, adding they’re “on schedule,” “on budget” and a litany of other on-driven phrases. Finally the bosses tell them to simply, “Carry on.”

“The idea came from simplifying where we were and coming to a place where we could talk about what on demand business offers,” said creative director Andy Berndt of WPP Group’s O&M. “Even to the simple way people say that company is so ‘on’ or that band is so ‘on.’ Everything’s clicking, working like clockwork. That’s kind of how it feels emotionally. Everything’s falling into place.”

The spots by the New York shop are shot in trademark blue letterbox form and were directed by Joe Pytka. The client spent nearly $340 million on domestic ads last year, per TNS Media Intelligence/CMR.

Previous efforts focused on e-business, which is part of the on demand service, Berndt said. One ad that ran last year showed a company with a device called “universal business adaptor,” a fictional device that made all business technology work together smoothly.

“E-business is a very big thing for IBM, that’s still there,” Berndt said.” As businesses evolve and technology evolves, [on demand business] is a bigger way of looking at your entire business. All of the principles of e-business still hold: making business run better is still there. ‘On demand’ is a larger way of looking at business.”

Lisa Baird, vice president of integrated marketing communications at IBM, said, “From a strategic perspective this has been in the works for a long time. ‘On Demand’ has become a customer term for what they want to be. As companies gravitated towards this term we recognized the postive connotations of it.”

Baird added, “IBM has been known as a computer company but it is also now the world’s largest business consultancy.”

The campaign will run for “years,” Baird said. “We like our camapigns to be continuous in the marketplace.”

Also contributing to the campaign were Chris Wall and Susan Westre, executive creative directors; Jeff Curry, associate creative director; Richard Ryan; copywriter; and Michael Patterson, senior art director.

A print component, which will be comprised of about 10 executions, features the word “On” superimposed on an image of something that “On Demand Business” has made run smoother. One shows the Hong Kong harbor with the headline “China is On.” Copy reads, “From rolling out Linux nationwide to building grids that link universities, IBM is helping China prepare for a big future.”