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Tony the Tiger is great at advertising Frosties simply because his target audience love him, and he advertises Frosties. Unfortunately things don’t quite work this way for B2B marketers.
In B2B, creative still needs to stand out and people need to like it, but there is always the conflicting need to convey credibility and instantly communicate what your company does. So ideas need to be lovable, but serious.
Technology is a prime example of a sector that has long been labelled dull, uninspiring and devoid of creativity. The communications of tech brands are often serious, but rarely does anybody love it.
IBM however is an exception. That’s because seriously loveable B2B doesn’t get much bigger than IBM’s ‘A Smarter Planet’. It connects on both a rational and emotive level, and like all the best B2B work it echoes a fundamental truth about the company behind it.
It's a tagline, an ad campaign, a social media programme, an attempt to educate customers and influencers, a library of thought leadership, an employee motivational programme, and a clearly defined corporate mission. Most importantly, it sells IBM by framing the importance of harnessing the intelligence of a company's connected data.
The genius of IBM’s Smarter Planet was heightened by the fact that it fostered the development of one of the most seriously loveable B2B campaigns to date: The Watson Jeopardy challenge. IBM’s cognitive computing technology, Watson, is an artificially intelligent computer system capable of answering questions posed in natural language.
Watson’s performance on U.S. quiz show Jeopardy, which saw it beat two of the game’s former champions, made it an instant celebrity. Jeopardy provided a gateway to selling computers to the Fortune 1000. The brilliance of the Jeopardy challenge is that it combined highbrow content with mass appeal. It was also the perfect place to showcase state-of-the-art artificial intelligence technology to customers and prospects in a context that sparked visions of how it can be optimised for B2B applications – specifically, healthcare and insurance.
Like technology, engineering is another sector where brands all too often play it safe, relying on plain photography depicting the working environment and the people in it.
Trelleborg’s engineered systems operation however, with its ‘Everyday Ingenuity’ brand identity, bucks the trend. Everyday Ingenuity combines the worlds the target market inhabits: the desktop of the project manager and the engineering infrastructure they use in the field. Different messages and images are created for communications targeted at different segments like mining, offshore and infrastructure. All audiences, especially those within Trelleborg, are touched by the Everyday Ingenuity tagline which sums up what good engineering is all about, and what it does for the world every day.
Just like Tony the Tiger can eat Frosties while doing anything, great B2B can live at the brand level while carrying any number of solution-specific messages. The sheer awesomeness of a brand’s offering such as IBM’s Watson or Trelleborg’s industry-leading machinery, play their part, too, in making such ideas seriously loveable.
Reuben Webb is executive creative director (EMEA and APAC) at Stein IAS
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