A Tale of Two Billboards

What a nice friendly rivalry we’ve got here.

Driving to his client Oracle’s offices in Redwood Shores, Calif., a few weeks back, Grey executive creative director Dave Tutin happened upon an IBM billboard on High way 101 that featured men in spacesuits and the headline “They have come in search of better software.” Ever the prankster, Tutin mentioned it to Oracle guru Larry Ellison, then phoned his fellow Greyites and a few days later got a board up nearby that read: “If you’ve come in search of better software, you’ve come to the right place. Oracle.”

Tutin couldn’t believe his luck, and was at a loss to explain IBM’s thinking in putting up that kind of message so close to Oracle HQ. “To me it was like, ‘Oh, sweet!’ ” he says happily. “But some body at their agency should get their ass kicked.”

Perhaps receiving said punishment, the folks at Ogilvy & Mather wouldn’t comment. But Kevin Scully, IBM’s director of integrated market ing communications, down played any animosity. “We were delighted they acknow ledged our board,” he says, adding that it was too good a location in terms of traffic to pass up.

With IBM moving into the next phase of the campaign, its board is coming down in favor of a new one. But don’t expect the replacement to be a response to the response. “We don’t advertise to poke holes in Oracle,” Scully says.