Learning from Winners: How IBM Seized the Day

Raymond Pettit
Advertising Research Foundation


After IBM embarked on its marketing transformation almost 15 years ago, the company's brand ranking leapt from 282 in 1994 to 3 in 2002 (Brandweek, 2002). Although many factors contributed to this success, the company undertook an agency-rationalization initiative that literally changed the way it does advertising and marketing. And that program played a pivotal role in turning IBM back into a successful marketing organization.

In the early '90s, when the largest technology boom in history was about to take off, IBM was struggling with inherited problems. The company was a vast global conglomerate with incompatible brand strategies, and its brand value was in the doldrums. In 1993, BusinessWeek's “Global Brands” survey valued IBM's brand at just $50 million; a Fortune magazine cover featured IBM under the headline “Dinosaurs.” It was clear that IBM needed to transform and reignite its brand.