Northern Light Lauds IT Heroes

Imagine a world where information technology professionals are showered with gifts and greeting cards and viewed as heroes—even superheroes.

That’s the alternate reality envisioned by Mullen in its latest campaign for Northern Light Technology. The effort promotes the Cambridge, Mass.-based client’s suite of information service offerings to IT professionals nationwide.

The approach is a departure for Northern Light. The company’s past efforts mainly targeted consumers and were designed to brand the site as a search engine.

While the budget was not disclosed, annual spending was estimated at $12-15 million when the Wenham, Mass., agency began working with Northern Light a year ago.

Along with print ads, breaking nationwide in technology magazines in November, the campaign includes banner ads portraying IT managers as superheroes. Comic book-style graphics and fonts list IT manager superpowers, such as “death-defying relevancy ranking” and “fantastic feats of content integration.” Mullen is also implementing guerrilla marketing, including sending gift baskets to IT professionals.

Print executions “celebrate the often unsung and overlooked role that IT professionals play in an organization,” said Northern Light director of marketing Susan Stearns. An effort was made to infuse ads with a sense of the company’s brand personality. “We focused not on rock-your-sides funny humor, but an educated, sophisticated humor,” said Stearns.

One execution shows a greeting card display. Below the slot for “Hubby” is a card for the IT manager which reads, “You light up my life.” Another effort shows a parking lot in which the IT manager has a parking spot in the same row as CEO and handicap parking, with the headline “Behold the offerings to the god of information.” Ads retain the tagline: “Just what you’ve been searching for.”

“The strategic idea is, let’s make the IT manager feel that there’s a benefit to [using Northern Light’s services],” said Mullen chief creative officer Edward Boches. In this case, the benefit is that he will be “glorified, respected and admired,” he said.

Ads will likely run through the first quarter of 2001 in technology publications such as CIO and InformationWeek.