IBM Set to Debut $110M Multichannel Effort

The slowing economy isn't stopping IBM from kicking off a $110 million worldwide marketing effort today for its four major product groups.

“In terms of spending that type of money, we anticipated that eventually there would be a slowdown in the market,” said Mark Rosen, vice president for integrated marketing communications at IBM Software Group, Somers, NY. “So we put together a smart business plan and took the necessary steps in looking forward to 2001 and 2002 in order to manage our marketing tactics and regulate the number of tactics, allowing us to run a campaign of this size.”

That plan includes marketing all four of its middleware products — DB2, Lotus, Tivoli and WebSphere — within the same campaign for the first time.

“We always wanted to create a synergy between the four,” Rosen said. “Bringing the four together saves us money on people, creative, preparation and delivery time.”

The campaign theme focuses on two characters called “codernauts” who, Rosen said, have come to Earth from a parallel universe where software is closed, proprietary and difficult to use. Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, New York, is handling all of the creative work.

Print and TV ads roll out today following preliminary ads in The Wall Street Journal last week. A four-page spread will run in the Journal, The New York Times, USA Today, The Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, E-Week, InfoWeek and Interactive Week. Ads also start today on national cable channels and TV stations in Boston, Chicago and San Francisco.

A direct mail component of several million pieces will start in May or early June. IBM plans to send the mailings throughout the Americas, Europe and Asia Pacific, targeting existing customers and prospects in the IT audience who are decision makers and implementers.

More specifically, IBM is going after IT people who want to run Web-based applications, manage high-volume transactions, set up security in a Web environment and support knowledge management, as well as those dealing with the acquisition integration.

The creative for the mail pieces is still in the planning stages, but Rosen said they will use the codernauts characters.

“We are going to create something that will have legs,” Rosen said. “It is going to be able to last beyond the normal year and a half that most campaigns in this category run for.”

Though the theme will remain the same for all of the mail pieces, the text will vary depending on the product being highlighted and where it is sent.

Starting about the same time as the mail campaign, IBM will send e-mails to existing customers and prospects and will begin running banner ads on sites including The New York Times Online, CNN, The Wall Street Journal, and ZDNet.

“Depending on the site and its capabilities, we will use various technologies,” Rosen said. “We will have technology and capabilities imbedded in the ad that will have relevance to the audience.”

Because of the animation and interviews with the codernauts that will appear in the banner ads, Rosen believes the ads will have a viral effect.

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