IBM Unveils $375 Million Global Campaign

NEW YORK — IBM is kicking off a new global campaign, seeking to embrace its “e-business” theme around its software, server and storage offerings and timing it with the unveiling of the Wall Street Journal’s redesign, which debuted Tuesday.

The campaign builds upon the “e-business is the game. Play to Win” theme that started with a series of US-only TV spots in January using the game of basketball as a metaphor for the competitive nature of e-business and the level of integration both “games” require.

The global campaign, conceived by WPP Group’s Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, is estimated at $375 million, according to industry sources. It is being inaugurated by a special one-time, eight-page insert in today’s Journal. Future single page ads will appear in other business and IT titles, NY Times, BusinessWeek, Harvard Business Review, CIO and Computer World, said Lisa Baird, IBM’s vp of advertising. Television, radio and online ads will follow, Baird added.

“The campaign will definitely run through this year,” Baird said, declining to discuss dollar figures. “The way the budget falls — it’s 70 percent of our ad spending for 2002, but for the second-, third and fourth quarters, it’s actually 100 percent.” An IBM representative noted that “”Play to Win” will have the largest budget amount ever put behind a single IBM campaign.

The campaign is targeting “everyone from a C-level strategist — CEO, CFO, CIO, COO — to the business audience that’s trying to transform business models. Also, we’re targeting the IT strategist and implementers, the people who actually choose the code that they want to write,” Baird said.

To better focus its reach to those various constituencies, IBM decided to consolidate its advertising across its business units, and so the Software Group’s “Codernauts” are history. The print ads displaying extreme close-ups are similarly gone.

The current ads also feature notable IBM customers like Goodyear and Ebay.

“We wanted to tap into a certain optimism. And this campaign, in tone and attitude, seems to hit the mark with companies like Goodyear and Ebay — which is one of the only dotcoms posting profits. These companies have a really tight business model and they’re continuing to work on areas of productivity,” Baird said.