Cannes Lions


OGILVY & MATHER, New York / IBM / 2011


1 Gold Cannes Lions
1 Silver Cannes Lions
4 Shortlisted Cannes Lions
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CHALLENGE IBM built a computer named “Watson” that can understand human language. As an ultimate test of its ability, the computer would compete on the quiz show Jeopardy! against the world’s two greatest champions.How could we use this scientific achievement to capture the world’s imagination and inspire the public to care about Watson?SOLUTION We created an avatar as a public face for Watson and we took people behind the scenes, documenting Watson’s progress for two years. We explained the science behind the machine and educated the world about the possibilities of this impressive leap in computer science.


Our solution was to create an abstract piece of generative art that took cues from the existing Smarter Planet icon campaign. The Watson avatar made use of colour, speed, and shape to convey almost everything the computer was going through during a Jeopardy! game. Instantly, the avatar was able to reflect ideas of computer intelligence and even emotion.

Different colours were also used to show the audience how confident Watson was in an answer, with orange showing low confidence and green showing high.


1) Captured the world’s imagination- 70% of the US population was aware of the IBM Jeopardy! Challenge.

- Watson became a pop culture icon: featured on most US talk shows, Saturday Night Live, inspired an American Idol parody, and even reached global news programming. In the US alone, Watson garnered over One Billion impressions worth $50 million in earned media.

- Watson was covered in thousands of TV news programs, print and online press ranging from ABC News to Wired. “The New York Times Magazine” featured IBM and Watson in a 10-page cover story.2) Drove relevance and positive understanding of Watson and IBM- 40% of the US population aware of the event had a positive change in perception of IBM vs. 1% negative change – proving we minimized the Skynet/HAL comparison.

- Traffic to increased by 556% during the month of the challenge.

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