IBM: Watson

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

Strategic Challenge

Turn a game into serious commercial payback

The victory of IBM's Watson system on a three-night special broadcast of Jeopardy! in February 2011 was years in the making, with daunting challenges to overcome. While the biggest were technical – the task of teaching a computer to understand natural language in a pressure situation rife with wordplay – there was a significant communications problem to solve too.

Marketing did not build the computer, nor come up with the plan to put it on Jeopardy! What it had to do was maximize the potential impact of Watson on IBM, its brand and its balance sheet. Communications had to create the conditions for Watson to be a phenomenon, for its business impact to be phenomenal, and to link this all to IBM's broader Smarter Planet agenda.