IBM Promotes the i5 on Prime-Time Television
December 13, 2004 Timothy Prickett Morgan
If you were surfing through the channels watching television on the local ABC station last week, you might have been surprised to see something that many iSeries enthusiasts have been wanting to see: an ad promoting the iSeries platform and the new eServer i5 on prime-time television.
According to IBM, the ad featured the Power5-based eServer i5 as a server consolidation platform. The “humorous” ad, according to an IBM press release, was the one that the company tested earlier this year in Kansas City and St. Louis, Missouri.
Here is the schedule for future ads, according to a source who says he knows when IBM is running the ads. All of the ads are running on ABC in a nationwide promotion campaign. IBM has booked ads in two episodes of the drama show Lost. They will air on December 15, between 8:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m., and a week later on December 22, between 9:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. They will run in prime-time on December 18 during the movie Remember the Titans, and also during the drama series Boston Legal.
“It’s simply time again to unleash IBM’s best kept secret on the world,” Peter Bingaman, vice president of marketing for the iSeries, said in a press release. “I am excited about this campaign, as it is further affirmation to our customers and partners that we are completely committed to the iSeries brand. It’s an exciting and very strategic IBM server platform that we are again bringing front and center to prime-time business.”
The TV ad campaign will come as a bit of a surprise to many people. At the fall COMMON trade show only two months ago, Cecelia Marrese, who was in charge of iSeries marketing before Bingaman took the job on November 1, said that IBM ran the TV ads in St. Louis and Kansas City and set up control groups in Columbus, Ohio, and a number of other cities, running a series of print ads, drive-time radio slots, and TV ads to promote the iSeries. What she said did not make it seem like IBM would be running TV ads anytime soon, but now there is a new marketing vice president in town, who apparently has other ideas. Marrese said that no one polled by IBM in either the Missouri cities or the control group cities remembered the TV spots. But she said that the combination of radio and print ads featured local companies talking about their iSeries. She said further that, rather than trying to compete directly against the large amount of marketing for Windows, Linux, and Unix solutions at a platform level, IBM would probably try to tailor future iSeries ads at specific industries and geographies where iSeries solutions can–and do–compete against solutions on these other platforms.
Clearly, Bingaman and his boss, Mike Borman, the new general manager of the iSeries Division, have other ideas about what IBM should do and what those test runs in Kansas City and St. Louis mean. The question now is whether these six slots are the beginning of a sustained commitment to market the iSeries or just a broader test of the idea of running TV ads to promote the platform. We shall see.
The ad that aired last week is the same as the one shown to COMMON attendees at the recent show in Toronto. The Toronto User’s Group has a copy of the ad posted on its Web site (.mpg format).