IBM: Let's Build A Smarter Planet

Category: Electronics
Brand/Client: IBM
Lead Agency: Ogilvy & Mather
Contributing Agencies: OgilvyOne Worldwide, Neo@Ogilvy, Leopard, SYPartners

Strategic Challenge

In mid-2010, as IBM came into the third year of Smarter Planet, the task ahead was clear. The campaign had been exceptionally successful in helping IBM gain mindshare, positioning the company as a thought-leader bestriding many categories, always applying technology to make the world's systems work better. Leadership now had to translate to results, for three key reasons:

  1. 2011 was to be a very significant year: IBM's Centennial. Given the attention the company knew it would receive, business performance had to be stellar: the company needed to grow and to be seen to be growing. But in the down economy of 2009, topline revenue had declined 8%, a trend continuing into the first quarters of 2010. This needed to be reversed.
  2. Feeding into this was a commitment IBM had made investors in 2007 promising the company would grow earnings 15% each year through 20151. While cost savings offsetting 2009 revenue declines had allowed this to be maintained, this could not continue indefinitely and so new organic growth was vital. Deviation from the roadmap would be punished by Wall Street.
  3. Finally, growth had to be achieved in the face of increasingly aggressive competition, retooling themselves to take advantage of the hoped-for economic recovery. IBM's is a complicated B2B business, a mixture of IT hardware, software and consulting services applied to a full spectrum of industry and Government verticals. With Smarter Planet, this range and reach has increased to encompass markets beyond traditional IT domains: healthcare, local government, even crime-fighting.