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Ad of the Day: IBM Ran 62 Different Spots on the Masters. So, How Did That Go?


IBM wants you to know it's everywhere.

It especially wants you to know that if you are a golf fanatic or C-suite executive who watches the Masters from start to finish.

With the help of Ogilvy & Mather, IBM created a stunning series of 62 different commercials, and ran each of them once during the golf tournament, which wrapped up Sunday. The campaign, with the theme "Made With IBM," featured snapshots of how the brand's services like cloud computing and mobile analytics are used by organizations around the world, from businesses like Lindt to municipalities like Miami Dade.

Here's the YouTube playlist for the campaign:

The central point is data's potential to impact all aspects of life—and IBM's sales pitch about the growing importance of capitalizing on the opportunity in commerce. "Point to almost anything, we can make it faster, better, more efficient, on the cloud," says Jason McGee, an IBM employee, in one spot about innovation, as the camera focuses on shots of coffee and eggs.

Whether or not that's true, the overall production is an impressive display of IBM's marketing muscle, and the company's broad global reach is reflected in both the scope and subject matter, which touches on themes like music, cooking and education. The campaign features more than 30 interviews with IBM employees and clients, and footage from 14 shoots in 20 countries on five continents. (Footage from the company's "A Boy and His Atom" film, about more efficient storage methods, found its way into the campaign as well.)

Companies like Chinese retailer Leyou, which sells baby products, make an appearance, as do firms like Italian broadcaster Sky Italia. The spots themselves are a diverse collage of tones and styles, with some particularly clever visual cues. Origami animals, for example, in a Kyocera spot about the company's diversification away from paper-centric products, offer a subtle nod to the environment.

IBM is far from the first tech company looking to shed light on its generally opaque relevance in ways that are tangible—but it's an unusually elaborate and granular approach, more like a stipple painting than, say, Sony's sweeping paean to art and engineering.

If you weren't glued to the tube for the Masters, you might not have the patience to wade through it all. And ultimately, some of the successes are fairly mundane—like helping Macy's manage and personalize its various shopper channels.

But some are of real social interest, like helping Memorial Sloan Kettering crunch information to help select the most appropriate cancer treatments for patients. "It's counterintuitive, [a] machine actually personalizes care more," says Dr. Mark Kris. (Where 30- to 60-second clips don't offer much in the way of detail, the online extensions of the campaign in many cases flesh out the case studies with concrete stats—citing, for example, 600,000 pieces of medical evidence processed by IBM supercomputer Watson for Sloan Kettering.)

Other examples, meanwhile, aspire to be even more profound, like helping Dutch astronomical research group Astron process huge amounts of telescopic information. "Using big data we will be able to make detailed maps of the earliest phases of the universe," says Astron's Albert Jan-Boostra. "It also helps us answer who are we, where are we from, what is our purpose?"

Obviously, the meaning of life is to sell more IBM services, and thereby pave the way for our machine overlords to fulfill their destiny and claim the Earth as their own.

That, or it's 42.

Here's Ogilvy's video about the making of the campaign:

Client: IBM
Agency: Ogilvy & Mather, New York

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