Sunday, 10 February 2008

IBM, your point is?

Don't you just love those IBM ads? There's been some pretty good ones over the years, always with that nice "big blue" branding and a clear case to make.

So what are we to make of this one? I know it's been knocking around for a while, riling the virtual world community each time someone mentions it, but anyway....

Tateru Nino, at Massively, suggests that the ad may have intended to say: "you need IBM's expertise to take advantage of virtual worlds." After all, that tends to be the general thrust of most IBM's ads: "You need IBM's expertise to take advantage of [insert topic here]." However, Tateru's unscientific and informal poll suggests that most viewers interpreted the meaning as: "Virtual worlds are for losers and failures." That is my reaction, too.

However, I don't think they are saying either of these thing here. As a virtual worlder, it is easy to be over-sensitive. To me, the ad is just one way of saying "because something is fun and cool, that alone does not make it a good business proposition." In that regard, it is using virtual worlds (let's face it, folks, an easy target) as a visually humorous vehicle for conveying the message.

It is worthwhile looking at other ads in the IBM "Stop Talking, Start Doing" campaign. It gives the virtual world ad some context, plus they are quite amusing. Some others in the series include:

In fact, the campaign is putting out a very traditional message about a potentially exciting bundle of products and services. It is "don't listen to people who just bang on about innovation, get with the people who can deliver it."

If I have a quibble it is with the line: "the point of innovation is to make actual money." I would disagree - the point of innovation is to create the intellectual knowledge and understanding, the tools, frameworks and techniques, which others can then take forward to make actual money.

4 comments: said...

There's also such thing as 'organizational knowledge' (good old book about it ).
What these... quite 'revealing' commercials depict is in fact the way traditional 'corporate culture' is incapable of any positive change. Sometimes it's just scary, I saw many examples of this.

P.S. The commercials are just CREEPY. I would fire the authors in an instant. They've done a REAL damage to IBM.

Roo Reynolds said...

I wrote about this on Eighbar recently and it generated some great discussion:

dyerbrookME said...

yes be sure to read the discussion @Roo Reynold's blog.

I can't help feeling IBM is right.

Also, the one guy is a dead ringer for RL Hiro Pendragon!

Aleister Kronos said...

The discussion at eightbar does, indeed, make for an interesting read - though (unsurprisingly) there is no real conclusion.

This ad - and the rest of the campaign - is all to do with "Innovation? we do it, we don't just fart on about it" (whether you agree with IBM's claim is another matter).

I wonder if the ad company was actually aware of the amount of effort IBM have put into VWs?

And is it just me (and my general inattentiveness), or does the same guy appear in several of the ads? What's that all about?