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IBM’s rethink tank: brand study may mean new ball game By Cathy Taylo

The IBM Personal Computer Co.–the division of the computer giant with the biggest ad budget and viewed as IBM’s future-has engaged in a major

One suggested moniker– THINK Personal Technologies– may have made its way to the desk of new IBM chief Lotus Gerstner for approval. However, Ray Freeman, vp/communications for the PC unit, stated Friday that looking at the possibility of a name change was only a small part of Landor’s role and added he wasn’t aware any suggestions reached Gerstner. “Landor is involved in working with our brand; they were not hired to rename our company,” he said. “They are working with our brand Managers on the whole area of branding.” Freeman declined to comment on the “THINK Personal Technologies” name.
In another area, Freeman indicated that a global pitch to consolidate the PC company’s worldwide advertising at a single agency may only be a matter of time. “One agency globally would make sense,” he concluded. “We’re trying to develop a global brand here.”
Landor’s work encompasses several tasks that border on the province of advertising agencies. According to one IBM source, Landor suggested not only the new name but a strategic line–“Human By Design”–to IBM PC Co. executives. But the existence of the line doesn’t mean that it would make its way into advertising, currently handled by Lintas:New York and Grey Direct. “It’s a positioning description rather than a copy line,” explained one source close to IBM.
The word “think” as part of a proposed new name for the PC Co. would have links to both the company’s origins and current product lines. The word was posted prominently in founder Tom Watson’s office and it also refers to the PC Co.’s line of laptop computers, all of which carry the name “Thinkpad.”
Sources said the liaison on the Landor project is Burson-Marsteller executive
Bert Reisman, who was head of IBM communications during what many consider the glory days of the computer giant’s advertising: when Lord, Geller, Federico, Einstein reappropriated Charlie Chaplin for the firm’s PC line in the early to mid-1980s. (B-M, like Landor, is a division of Y&R.) Reisman also helped reposition Lexmark, a maker of low-end printers that, as of 1991, is only 10%-owned by IBM. Lintas has that firm’s global ad assignment. Still another ad link exists to Ed Vick, who joined Landor as its ceo in 1992. In the late ’80s while at Ammirati & Puris, Vick worked on the account of Next, the computer firm rounded by Steve Jobs. Neither Reisman nor Vick could be reached for comment.
Copyright Adweek L.P. (1993)