How IBM Changed The Playing Field

Goodby, Berlin & Silverstein didn’t win the IBM PC Co. account. Merkley Newman Harty did. But the way GBS/S.F. co-principal Jeffrey Goodby sees it, that was almost as good. ‘What that review showed is that anyone can win anything,’ Goodby says. Before the IBM win, billings at the New York-based shop barely topped $40 million. A few years ago, an agency so small wouldn’t even cross the lips of a client with an account of IBM’s size or prestige.
For that matter, a blue-chip company like IBM wasn’t likely to travel any farther West than Soho for an ad agency either – believing as they once did that ‘legitimate’ advertising came from Madison Avenue. That IBM even considered GBS – and chose MNH – says as much about the attitude adjustment clients are undergoing as it does about the talents of either agency.
IBM launched its review seeking one thing above all else – an idea. That turned out to be an eye opener for a lot of larger agencies . . . and a door opener for a lot of smaller ones.
Before the year was out, Portland, Ore. shop Widen & Kennedy and Chiat/Day in Venice, Calif., both joined the roster for Coca-Cola, something to think about if you’re sizing up the year.
Copyright Adweek L.P. (1993)