MMA Case Study: Ogilvy/IBM

The brief
IBM wanted to engage IT professionals with Rational, its brand of software development products. Traditionally, IBM has promoted the Rational brand every six months through a flagship event, the Rational Software Development Conference. In September 2007, IBM turned to Ogilvy to implement a mobile marketing campaign to directly target registered attendees for the event.


The campaign had two key objectives. The first was to directly target registered participants and ensure that all of them attended the event on the day. The other core objective of the campaign was to market the event using direct content via the mobile, engaging attendees with the conference themes prior to the event.

Strategy and solution
Ogilvy looked to the targeted power of mobile to market the event content and engage attendees in a direct conversation with the Rational brand. Ogilvy needed to ensure that all mobile communication with attendees was not perceived as spam; rather it needed to deliver clear, concise messaging in an easy-to-access, absorbable format.  
The first stage of the activity involved asking all participants upon registration if they would like to provide their mobile number to participate in the pre-event mobile service. Through Ogilvy’s mobile partner, Response Mobile, all registered opted-in attendees were contacted via a staggered mobile content feed sent directly to their handsets. Ogilvy used this staggered content feed to converse with conference attendees, ultimately to increase attendance and to heighten the impact of the Rational brand offering.
All those who registered were sent a series of messages direct to their handsets in the days leading up to the conference, reminding them about the event and promoting the concepts and content behind it. For example, two weeks and one week before the event, attendees were sent SMS messages reminding them of the event date and the website details. Two days before the event, attendees received a WAP push message. Clicking on this sent them to a mobile Internet site where they could watch a 30-second video clip from the keynote speaker, welcoming them to the conference.

Ogilvy leveraged mobile messaging as a practical solution that sat perfectly with the style of messages that IBM wanted to deliver. The mobile marketing strategy for The Rational Software Development Conference proved to be extremely effective in delivering the two key objectives.
Attendees were effectively engaged with the event prior to attending. 75% of all attendees opted to provide their mobile number when registering, and during the course of the pre-event outreach, over 50% of attendees accessed the WAP site, with over 20% downloading the video clip. In utilising mobile as a means for direct outreach between the brand and participants, overall attendance at the September 2007 event was 25% up on the previous event.

MMA Viewpoint: The mobile marketing industry needs to build faith among consumers that mobile marketing is a positive way to engage with their brands of choice. Brands using mobile as a marketing channel need to project and deliver a message that consumers believe is positive, welcome, and of benefit to them. Case studies such as this one from Ogilvy show that the mobile channel is an ideal way in which to engage with a group of individuals such as event attendees in this manner, and can be done in a positive and useful way.The initial registration for the event provided a great way to build a database of people who were willing to receive communications on their mobile device and had opted in, meeting with the MMA’s Code of Conduct. The communications sent were also timely and relevant, providing attendees with information that was of true value to them ahead of the conference they were joining. When a customer knows that the messages they are receiving are trustworthy and of genuine relevance to them, that’s when a true conversation between brand and customer can really begin to develop.