IBM Campaign Touts E-Biz Benefits

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IBM Corp. kicks off a direct mail push this week as part of an ongoing e-culture campaign that the technology giant hopes will demonstrate the benefits companies can gain by joining its e-business concept.


In the last year and a half, IBM, Armonk, NY, has engaged between 15,000 and 20,000 customers in e-business, which is designed to show companies how to use the Internet and IBM's services and technologies to aid e-commerce and add alternatives to how they interact with their vendors, suppliers, partners and customers. The company has served a range of customers, including major players in the securities, banking and airline industries. The e-culture campaign, which is dominated by print and outdoor elements, focuses on a dozen companies that had their Web sites set up by IBM.


The mailings, which steer recipients toward four of those customers' Web sites, are designed to refocus the e-business drive from a general overview of the concept to specific customers and the hardware, software and services IBM provided. Mailing recipients will be able to "kick the tires" of what IBM did for their customers, said John Bukovinsky, IBM's director of media relations.


Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, New York, which created the campaign, will send 200,000 postcards Sept. 15, at the same time the interactive e-business symbol -- a circle "e," similar to the @ sign -- becomes operational within the four Web sites.


"Now that we've introduced e-business to the marketplace, e-culture is designed to demonstrate the momentum behind it," said Kate Boydell, account supervisor at OgilvyOne Worldwide, O&M's interactive unit. "We've been trying to educate the market about the opportunities of e-business. Now what we're trying to do is both illustrate momentum within lots of different industries and companies and also demonstrate that … there are many organizations and many people who can benefit from e-business."


Roughly 70 percent of the mailings will be sent to corporate strategists and the remainder to "implementers," or senior-level information-technology executives. Each recipient will receive all four mailings over a four-week period.


One of the four postcards, which looks at Air Canada, displays a black-and-white photograph of Manhattan's Flatiron Building. Two airliners fly in opposite directions in the distance, both accompanied by IBM's e-business logo, one marked "toronto" and the other "ny." Situated beneath the wedge-shaped Flatiron and a bustling intersection is the tag line: "www.aircanada.ca is an IBM e-business. Buy tickets online and see the world. IBM Web security helps keep the world from seeing your credit card."


The back of the card, which reads "site of the week" and gives Air Canada's Web address, breaks out the airline's e-business experience into three parts: the challenge, the solution and the result.


Air Canada's challenge reads, "Self-service online ticketing was a huge leap forward in airline customer service. But Canada's largest airline, Air Canada, wanted to go even further. They wanted a Web site where customers could find out about anything they needed to know, as well as purchase tickets. And while they were at it, they figured why not make it fun?"


IBM's prescription included two RS/6000 servers, an AIX v.4 operating system, a DB2/6000 database PanoramIX technology that allows an interactive tour of one of the airline's planes and Networking connectivity hardware. The result, according to IBM, is, "Customers are empowered as never before. At www.aircanada.ca you can purchase tickets, view flight schedules, make reservations, even take airplane tours complete with 360 degree imaging." The mailer closes with an appeal to the card's recipients to visit the site and click on the e-business mark to learn how to apply it to their own businesses.


"It's like hiding the world of e-business behind a little mark on the site. And with the direct mail, we're helping implementers and strategists find their way to that keyhole," Boydell said.


Another card details IBM's role in providing the PGA Tour with 24-hour, seven-day access to real-time statistics and news, schedules, highlights and merchandise.
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