IBM, Microsoft Target IT Execs With New Creative

Technology giants International Business Machines (IBM) and Microsoft this
week roll out new efforts aimed at wooing executives by pushing the ability
their products and services to help out cash-strapped businesses.

Armonk, NY-based IBM’s new ad campaign, which continues its “on-demand”
initiative rolled out with
great fanfare
last year, is aimed at a global audience and will carry
the tagline “Can you see it?” — urging c-level executives to visualize the
benefits IBM products and services can bring to their businesses.

Spending was not disclosed, but the company said last year it would shell
out between $700 and $800 million to promote “on-demand” overall. People
knowledgeable about IBM’s plans say it will maintain the same level of
global ad spending as it has in the previous two years, around $600
million — but that figure doesn’t include marketing expenditures other than
advertising. Ogilvy & Mather, a division of WPP Group, is IBM’s worldwide

The “Can you see it?” theme first debuted in TV spots IBM aired during the
basketball playoffs in March. The new campaign will continue Monday, on
television, in
print and online. The initial general print campaign will be followed by a
second wave of product-line specific advertisements, such as for the
software group, the server group, and for the company’s Linux OS efforts.
Each will carry the tagline “Can you see it?” to mesh with the overall
corporate theme.

The television ads will feature some of the same characters as the earlier
set of on-demand-focused advertising, and they’ll shoot for the same
humorous tone as well. In one spot, all of the elements of an office
environment — desks, telephones, staffers, etc. — are seen floating in an
ocean, but only one person seems to notice the business is adrift. When she
tries to point the fact out to the rest of the employees, she’s shushed and
told it’s someone else’s meeting. That particular ad is aimed at pushing
IBM’s business consulting services, which it beefed up with the acquisition
of PricewaterhouseCoopers last year.

IBM has made “on demand” the centerpiece of its corporate strategy, but a study from
Forrester Research
found competitor Hewlett-Packard slightly better
positioned to offer such services currently, although the same report
predicted IBM
would close the gap within a year. When it reported results last week, the
tech bellwether’s revenues grew by 11 percent to $20.1 billion during the
first quarter, owing to global services and middleware sales.

Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft , for its part, is reportedly breaking a $200
million global ad effort this week aimed at winning over cash-strapped IT
executives, according to a report on ad industry publication

The Microsoft campaign, like the one from IBM, is said to continue an
existing theme in the company’s marketing efforts. The print, TV, online and
outdoor spots will push three business software products, according to the
report, following the theme of “Software for the Agile Business.”

Like IBM’s TV campaign, Microsoft will tap humor for its spots, which will
reportedly appear on cable and prime-time network TV. Interpublic Group of
Companies’ McCann-Erickson Worldwide, San Francisco, designed the campaign.

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