Cannes Lions


OGILVY & MATHER, New York / IBM / 2016

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Most computing systems lack the ability to understand, reason or learn. Cognitive systems are different. In fact, they have “human” characteristics. Accordingly, they are able to understand, reason, and learn from previously unseen data, like images, words and videos. We introduced Watson, our cognitive system, to notable figures and their work—so it could learn and grow, i.e. get smarter. We fed it data such as lyrics, novels, and tennis statistics - among other things – to find compelling, interesting, or even unexpected insights about the lives and work of Watson’s notable co-stars. Pairing man and machine in this innovative way allowed us to create ads unlike any other before: ads quite literally informed by a whole new class of data.


Our primary target audience was business decision makers, and the people we are trying to reach watch sports at night as a second screen. Our spots specifically aligned to Monday Night Football, with the second wave of creative launching during the National Football League playoffs. In addition these spots ran during the day on news channels that are watched by our target audience—typically on mute since they feature the stock market tickertape throughout the day. From a digital perspective we brought elements of the campaign to life with search targeted toward the same audiences and social assets on platforms that we have found to be strongest with this audience.


In the months following the campaign launch…

The work earned almost 30 million YouTube views.

84% of decision makers who saw the ads said the ads wanted them to visit the IBM website.

77% of them wanted to contact IBM to find out more.

IBM jumped from sixth to #1 preferred IT company,

with preference at the highest level in six years.

IBM’s stock price rallied to beat the S&P by 390%.

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