Big Blue’s Smarter Marketing Playbook

January 12, 2010, 2:07pm By Steve Lohr

I.B.M. trotted out its “smarter planet” campaign more than a year ago, starting with a speech by Samuel J. Palmisano, I.B.M.’s chief executive, at the Council on Foreign Relations. At the time, the campaign seemed an ambitious, though potentially risky move. The vision of transportation, health care, cities, retailing, finance and other fields made more intelligent with digital technology — and yes, supplied largely by I.B.M. — could have easily fizzled and been portrayed as big-think puffery, out of step with an economy in a tailspin.

But I.B.M.’s gamble looks like good one today. The smarter-planet campaign has covered Big Blue in the mantle of thought and technology leadership among its core customers of senior corporate executives and government officials. It has also delivered new business, helping I.B.M. hold up better than most of its industry peers; its stock price is up 50 percent in the past year.

Mr. Palmisano delivered a speech on Wednesday — “Welcome to the Decade of Smart” — at London’s Chatham House, home of the Royal Institute of International Affairs, a policy think tank. Though not meant as a lessons-learned marketing tutorial, the talk is implicitly just that. (more…)


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