IBM: Centennial

Ogilvy New York

Advertiser: IBM
Brand: IBM
Country: USA


Challenge: Turn IBM's Centennial Into Commercial Advantage

IBM is a $100BN revenue technology and consulting giant competing in a number of B2B sectors. It was founded on June 16th 1911; 2011 marked its 100 year anniversary.

A century on from the so-called "Second Industrial Revolution", companies have been turning 100 with some regularity1. But IBM wanted more than the usual ephemeral celebrations. It set out to turn its milestone birthday into strategic business advantage, defining success against three core audiences.

IBMers After Walmart, IBM has the most employees of any US company (c. 430,000)2. In a dynamic technology industry staff retention has profound business value: studies show the cost of replacing an IT industry employee can be over 3x annual salary; but the industry "attrition rate" (% employees quitting each year) is >15% 3. Meanwhile, IBM needs to integrate, retain and motivate c. 20,000 employees who worked for companies acquired in the past three years.
Success would be: a more engaged, informed and motivated workforce
Clients & Prospects Retention and acquisition of clients are obvious goals for any business. Although IBM determined not to use its Centennial to "sell" directly, it set out to strengthen and deepen perceptions and consideration. Success would be: clients and prospects valuing and being willing to do business with IBM
Investors As one of the world's largest publicly traded companies—a bellwether for both the technology sector and the market generally—IBM pays meticulous attention to investor relations. The Centennial would be an unprecendented opportunity to demonstrate to investors IBM's commitment to creating economic and social value for the long term.
Success would be: strong market performance throughout the Centennial year