IBM Seeks Skyrocketing Software Sales With 'Codernaut' Videos

IBM is using a series of video clips on its Web site featuring fictional space visitors to promote its software for e-business.

In a three-phase campaign, viewers first were teased about the space visitors story in mid-March via Flash banner ads on,,, and other sites. When viewers clicked on the graphic of two humans in spacesuits “visiting from a parallel universe,” they were linked to an interstitial ad on, where a video story about the visitors unfolded. “They share a lot of great things (with our universe), but one thing they don't have in their universe is great software,” the ad reads.

The Web campaign, developed by OgilvyInteractive, New York, is one component of a reported $210 million campaign that groups together four IBM middleware products: Lotus, DB2, Tivoli and WebSphere.

The teaser ads were “an exclusive for people on the Web, for them to know about it before others,” said Audrey Fleisher, co-creative director, OgilvyInteractive.

The second phase, which officially launched March 26, features four-page spreads in USA Today and The Wall Street Journal. National television commercials told the story of the two “codernaut” visitors' search for e-business software. “WebSphere, Lotus, Tivoli, DB2 — these were names the codernauts could remember … but there was still much to learn. E-marketplaces, supply chains, Web services — in this universe, software was transforming business,” the newspaper ads read. The ads referred readers to the visitors Web site to view video clips as well as to IBM's developerWorks portal on its site, which provides free Java and XML tools and code to businesses.

The third phase features new banner ads on some ZDNet sites, and several other sites, linking to a different interstitial ad on the IBM site that delves into more details on the products. Viewers also can watch or download four 30-second Quicktime or AVI videos, which follow the codernauts as they “encounter multiple corporate types in their quest to save the parallel universe from the threat of incompatible legacy systems and unfriendly source code.” That phase begins April 2 and runs through the end of this year.

OgilvyInteractive designed the banner ads to link to the URL, instead of e-mails with video clips included, based on the preference of the targeted audience, said Scott Storrs, co-creative director, OgilvyInteractive.

“Our audience is very sensitive to receiving e-mails with large attachments,” he said. “We wanted to avoid that.”

Because the audience is also sensitive to privacy, an option was provided to fill out a “contact form” before downloading video clips.

“Right at the top, we say it is unnecessary to register to see the videos,” Storrs said. The contact form requests name, title, e-mail address and region and asks whether the individual wants to receive IBM's e-business and Software News Alert, e-mailed three times a month.

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