IBM to Use Four Agencies to Simplify Its DM Strategy

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IBM's announcement earlier this month that it was paring down its direct marketing roster from more than 30 agencies to four, was part of an effort by the company to simplify its direct marketing strategy and give top agencies an opportunity to form a stronger alliance with the company, company officials said.

"It's easier. It allows them to be more of a strategic partner with us," said IBM spokesman John Bukovinsky. "It allows them to build the kind of special partnership that will be best for the business."

The four -- OgilvyOne, Barry Blau & Partners, Wunderman Cato Johnson and Bronner Slosberg Humphrey subsidiary Strategic Interactive Group -- will split a $100 million account with an additional $10 to $20 million small- and medium-business segment to be awarded to one of the four by the end of March, Bukovinsky said.

In addition to having stronger partnerships with the company, the agencies will be expected to work together on certain projects, a process that will be much easier under the new agency structure, Bukovinsky said.

"For example, Wunderman will be launching in Latin America and Asia/Pacific certain products and services that other agencies are handling. It will be a lot easier to work with a few agencies than with 30."

OgilvyOne, New York, which previously had a significant portion of the company's software and servers business for North America, found its duties expanded to include worldwide strategy and program development for software and servers, said Joseph McGee, director of client services for the agency. In addition, the agency won IBM's global services account, for which it had done some smaller assignments in the past.

"In the pitch, our goal was to show how we could leverage our learning and experience with IBM from past projects," McGee said, adding that the agency had previously conducted worldwide integrated launches for software that included print ads, direct mail, banner ads and Web sites.

For Barry Blau & Partners, Wilton, CT, the win of the worldwide strategy and program development work for personal systems, which include the Thinkpad, Aptiva, Netfinity servers and commercial desktop systems, represents a more global responsibility, said Peter Blau, executive vice president and chief creative officer.

Barry Blau & Partners also was selected as agency of record for the company's Gold Service relationship and sales program for the company's largest customers. The agency has worked with IBM on the program since its inception.

"It's a program for large customers that have 2,000 people who are making purchasing decisions," Blau said. "It makes it easier for purchasers to do business. It's extending the relationship based on convenience."

Barry Blau & Partners' plans include building on past experiences with the company, Blau said.

"We intend to continue to create consistent communications that enhances the brand," he said.

Wunderman Cato Johnson, New York, will be responsible for strategy and program development for industry solutions units as well as the strategy and execution in Latin America and Asia/Pacific of brand programs developed by OgilvyOne and Barry Blau & Partners. A Wunderman spokesman deferred questions to IBM for comment.

Strategic Interactive Group, Boston, will be responsible for worldwide development and execution of interactive direct marketing campaigns for small and medium businesses, Gold Service and the ShopIBM Web sites.

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