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B2B Marketing-IBM “Smarter planet” Campaign

TODAY, I would like to explain one of the most successful B2B campaigns---IBM’s “Smarter planet”, which won 2010 Effie Award. According to IBM’s marketing team’s sources, the campaign changed perceptions and drove a 37% increase in revenue. (Source: IBM) Other than building up an idea, the campaign setting up a theme that has united the company’s mission and marketing. The campaign’s social impact is long lasting even today. The great success of this campaign is that, through bring up the global issues and call for actions, it raises the brand awareness and reposition IBM global IT solution brand into the leading place. Cite a quotation from “‘Smarter planet’ wasn’t just a communications platform; it was a business agenda, to the extent that IBM reports ‘Smarter planet’ revenue in its financials. It aligned an enormous company in a direction both new and yet totally authentic with its history.” (Source:

Sam J. Palmisano (IBM chairman and CEO) rose up the idea “the world will continue to become smaller, flatter … and smarter” on November 17, 2008 in a speech. He emphasized the world’s system and industries were becoming more interconnected and intelligent, and advocating the industry leaders should took advantage on this trend. The “smart planet” campaign officially rolling out since then.

Few elements I picked up as below which I considered as the campaign’s highlights. First, the idea positioning; “Smart plate” is a huge idea, which can be considered as a vision. The slogan of “Build a Smart plate” breaks the industry limitation. In this way, IBM not only clearly presents their idea but also emphasis their leading position. Second, the campaign kicks off. Instead of buying all kind of advertising on media, IBM use a special way, it starts from a speech from the CEO to the Council on Foreign Relations. Then, It was quickly followed up with a series of thought leadership and the elite newspapers (The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and the Financial Times). Such action set up a solid foundation of high level B2B communication theme in the future. Third, colorful brand identity presenting; The little earth logo vivid shows on all media communication channels. Audiences are easy to define and linked it back to IBM great idea. Finally, the communication channels; thought leadership pieces, prints, outdoor, TV ads and sponsorships made the campaign work by reaching employees, existing customers, senior management and all the other constituencies IBM needed to influence.

To sum up the campaign is an integrated marketing strategy, breaks the boundary of industry through calling for “build up a better plate” action, and achieved a great success on IBM brand leadership position in industry.



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