In an adjustment to its overall corporate branding strategy, IBM today announced it is placing more emphasis on the word "on" in its global ad campaigns, to underscore the importance of its nearly 2-year-old effort promoting "on demand" computing services.
On-demand computing is an IBM-coined term (IBM uses it without the hyphen) that generally refers to the creation and use of a single unifying computer matrix to which a company, its partners, suppliers and customers have instant access but only pay according to the time they are actually connected to that matrix. In effect, they are "on" whenever they are using that special connective network.
Earlier this week, IBM kicked off a related software campaign for the nuts-and-bolts "middleware" integration services, which enable companies to get all their disparate information technology systems working together. Middleware, in many instances, is the crucial component that allows IBM to create the larger connective matrix service, which is being marketed in the broader "on" effort.
In a noon meeting with analysts today, IBM's CEO, Sam Palmisano, unveiled a red-buttoned, white-lettered "on" icon to be featured in the new global advertising campaign that begins next week. Mr. Palmisano originally announced the on-demand concept in 2002 and is now giving it a higher priority.
Mr. Palmisano displayed ads that feature the icon and new taglines, such as "Acura is on," "Napster is on" and even "China is on."
"On demand is the broad umbrella to tell the IBM story," said Lisa Baird, IBM's vice president for integrated marketing communications.
The goal of the campaign is twofold: bring the concept of on-demand computing down to earth with examples of real customer usage and claim ownership of -- while differentiating from the competition -- on-demand computing, she said.
Generically, the industry sometimes refers to this sort of service more narrowly as utility computing or adaptive computing. IBM competitors such as Microsoft, Sun Microsystems and Hewlett Packard have different strategies to accomplish similar goals for their clients.
IBM's on-demand computing means persuading businesses to outsource technology services to one supplier: IBM. The ad campaign puts a face to companies that have been doing just that. Along with Acura and Napster, IBM itself is its own client, and has undertaken an aggressive on-demand effort to change its internal systems to on-demand computing.
"On-demand business has the attractiveness of being on, not only literally but also on in the way that business is firing on all cylinders," Ms. Baird said. "It carries a lot of connotations, like responsiveness, flexibility, focus."
The new "on" strategy was born in the 2002 IBM corporate advertising concept of "ebusiness on demand," which in retrospect bridged the gap between the 6-year-old "ebusiness" and the newer on-demand computing. "Ebusiness" won't be dropped, but rather reassigned to specific advertising such as that for e-servers or other similarly tagged e-products. IBM's signature blue letterboxing (blocking off the top and bottom of the TV screen, as seen in movies shown on TV to preserve the film's wide-screen aspect ratio) will also continue in TV and Internet advertising.
The launch campaign, backed by undisclosed spending, will run through the end of the year, but the IBM "on" theme is expected to continue well past that.