IBM Promo, Case study MR BAO KNOWS IT ALL by Ogilvy & Mather Shanghai

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Industry IT Solutions & Professional Networks
Media Promo & PR, Case study
Market China
Agency Ogilvy & Mather Shanghai
Director Keanu Yan
Editor Ophelia Wan
Released June 2011

Credits & Description

Category: Best Use of Social Media
Advertiser: IBM
President: Scott Kroinck (Ogilvy Public Relations)
Senior Vice President: Selina Teng (Ogilvy Public Relations)
Director: Keanu Yan (Ogilvy Public Relations)
Consultant: Cecilia Zhou (Ogilvy Public Relations)
National Knowledge Manager: Olivia Fang (Ogilvy Public Relations)
Managing Director: Marion Mcdonald (Ogilvy Public Relations)
Editor: Ophelia Wan (Ogilvy Public Relations)
Media placement: Social Media - Sina Weibo - June

Summary of the Campaign
Incredible volumes of marketing insight data are now scattered like DNA traces through consumers’ everyday actions – mobile GPS locators, credit card swipes, Google searches, online shopping, Foursquare check ins. Mining these rivers of data reveals not only what people bought but why they bought it. The data-driven business insight to model business outcomes is ‘Business Analytics and Optimisation’ (BAO). As powerful as it is, it remained an obscure and ambiguous concept in China’s marketing lexicon.

An insight into the everyday impact of BAO shaped the campaign idea to personify BAO as 'Mr. Bao' - the new celebrity to follow on Weibo - with a personality that was humorous, intelligent, and a little quirky. By re-purposing existing content and encouraging user generated content, this cost effective social media campaign, reaching over 9.7m Chinese, drove a 37% increase in attendees to the 2011 annual BAO Forum, and generated Validated Leads Revenue Created (VLRC, an IBM valid metric) of US$10.9m, exceeding target by 36%. New leads also reached US$3.2m, exceeding the target by 34%.

Mr. Bao became a virtual brand ambassador, establishing IBM as a trusted advisor on BAO. All from a Weibo stream using re-purposed content for under US$50,000.

The Situation
IBM’s ambition in 2011 was to transform Chinese companies into smarter, insight-driven, efficient operations: central to its broader Smarter Planet vision and China’s transition to a knowledge-based society.

With Business Analytics and Optimisation (BAO) remaining an obscure and ambiguous concept, we needed to demystify the topic, promote the significant benefits to Chinese organizations in adopting BAO and to establish IBM as the trusted advisor on BAO.

The secondary challenge was that even within IBM China there was little alignment and employees were not confident in IBM’s BAO capabilities. This campaign needed to sell from the inside out.

The Goal
Business objective was to generate new business leads of US$10m for IBM.

Target audiences were B2B customers in the C-suite, IT developers, business/IT media.

Media touchpoints research showed 85% of target follow industry news via Weibo, which has a heavy male/urban/university-educated skew (CIC 2011). In the C-suite target age group of 45-60, Weibo users are content-driven (agency research).

Our insight came from understanding that BAO creates higher performing supermarket layouts, more efficient patient flow in hospitals, smarter traffic management systems and personalised shopping recommendations. We could see that once BAO was ‘humanised’ it became fascinating and a must-do for business.

The Strategy
Our PR strategies were to:

• Humanise the BAO topic so that our target audience could understand and relate to it personally

• Drive business community discussion between experts that influenced our target audience to attend the 2011 BAO Forum, and take sales calls from IBM on BAO

Conveniently, 'Bao' is also a common family name in China, sparking our creative idea:
We created a 'Mr. Bao' personality on Weibo – a middle-aged geek who is knowledgeable, humorous, and a little bit quirky. He demystifies BAO through a constant stream of content that is free of corporate jargon, entertaining and highly relevant.

For Mr Bao to be worth following, we needed a large bank of content including re-purposing existing IBM content (aligned with trending business topics), user generated content (from IBMers and customers), and content by key opinion leaders.

Debut of Mr. Bao on Weibo:
We determined Mr Bao’s key language codes based on the interests of our target audiences then began initial Weibo 'tweets' on introduction of BAO, news commentaries, personal posts (e.g. traffic jams) to make Mr. Bao feel human.

Make Mr Bao worth following:
Mr. Bao reached out to potential BAO KOLs using key word search, followed and commented on their tweets, and shared case studies with re-purposed photo/video content of how BAO can improve life in China.

Mr Bao, the online media host:
Mr Bao co-hosted a live 60 minute Weibo interview with 4 prominent KOLs, attracting 126 new followers within an hour.

Mr Bao goes to Africa: He ‘joined’ a volunteer NGO trip as virtual advisor on areas where BAO can improve life in Africa and China.

Post-BAO forum follow up: Mr Bao functioned as a virtual IBM media centre for 2011 BAO Forum

Documented Results
This content-driven social media campaign over-achieved all business objectives on a budget of just US$50,000.

Total leads generated was US$14.1m, beating the target by 41%. (Source: VLRC, an IBM valid metric).

Mr. Bao became one of IBM’s most successful sales tools, reducing average time for generating new business leads from several months to less than 10 days (client feedback).

The ROI in lead generation for 'Mr Bao' was 280 times investment. That is over US$14m in leads from a modest US$50,000 investment in social media.

Mr. Bao’s Weibo content reached over 9.7m Chinese, gained 11,273 of the right followers and engaged 119 KOLs including CEOs at high tech companies and editors from influential industry publications.

Mr Bao proved so successful and popular within IBM China that they have increased marketing investment against this Weibo platform in 2012.