Canadian DRTV trial changes global marketing strategy

Last Year's Headline:

Last Year’s Headline:

IBM going direct to consumers with DRTV push for PCs.

Synopsis: IBM Corp. makes the move into direct-to-consumer marketing by rolling out a series of 60-second direct response TV spots to sell its personal computing machines.

A seven-week program of DRTV spots is launched on specialty cable channels including Discovery Channel, History Television and HGTV Canada.

The first three spots produced by Toronto-based OgilvyOne Worldwide, are to be targeted at students and home-based business people who may be ready to make an immediate computer purchase.

Featured in the campaign are two desktop models (the IBM Aptiva 38U and IBM Aptiva 50U) as well as a notebook computer (the IBM ThinkPad i Series 1230).

To order a computer, viewers are asked to call an IBM employee named Pete at a 1-800 number or to log onto IBM’s Web site.

IBM introduces a measurement system to track the success of the program. Every incoming phone call is flagged with the ad that triggered it and the time of day and TV station at the source. Don Myles, VP of partner services for IBM Canada’s Personal Systems Group hopes that the experiment may be repeated if all goes to plan.

One year later: Not only were the DRTV spots extended to run right into the fall, they were also repeated six months later, in the same format and execution but with some minor modifications.

‘We were so satisfied with the response that we were able to run the ads for a whole season and then to repeat them,’ says Don Myles, VP of partner services for IBM Canada’s Personal Systems Group.

Since the launch of the spots in Canada, IBM Corp. has decided to use DRTV as a form of marketing on a global scale.

‘The corporation was previously running more high-awareness ads, but in the last year, they have decided to run more DRTV executions.’

IBM has developed a worldwide template for the ads, which each country can adapt to suit its own market.

The 30- and 60-second spots hitting the airwaves in Canada this month are directed at the same target audience as last year’s releases and is again being timed to hit the back-to-school market.

‘We follow the corporate template but we pick our own products and actors using the same philosophy that we used last year,’ explains Myles. ‘Our price point has not changed and our target group has not changed. Our technology keeps getting better, so people are getting more for the same money.’ IBM will soon be advertising via DRTV in the U.S., Europe and parts of south-east Asia and Australia, as well as in Canada.

Myles says that working from a global template has its advantages. ‘Instead of us having to do all of the development and the production, we can leverage the efforts of the Corporation, and so put more money into the media,’ he says.

The measurement system to track callers was also declared a huge success. ‘It exceeded all our expectations,’ says Myles.

Although he is unwilling to divulge the number of respondents, Myles says that the measurement system enabled IBM to establish which price point was the most successful and to use that information in developing the new ads.

‘We put separate telephone numbers on each DRTV commercial so we could track the number of calls relating to each ad, as well as the sales of each product,’ he explains.

Print ads, which were used in the initial campaign to reinforce the commercials, are also to be used as part of the new program.