IBM and GPJ Re-THINK Brand Activations as Digital First

GPJ has been IBM’s experiential agency of record for over 20 years – during which we’ve created award-winning experiences and overcome unexpected storms. What has remained consistent has been GPJ’s unwavering resilience in continuing to strengthen the IBM brand – no matter the situation – by creating dynamic brand experiences that deliver on their business goals. 

In 2018, IBM looked to GPJ to help them evolve their event strategy to ultimately land on IBM’s first singular flagship event, known as Think – a client-centric, narrative-driven and uniquely IBM experience.

The shift to a consolidated IBM experience over the past two years has proved to be a success, growing the target audience by 50% year over year while transitioning it – without a hitch – to San Francisco. 

Our Newest Challenge

Now, we’re faced with a new and far reaching challenge presented by the global health crisis, COVID-19. Overnight, IBM went from planning a 2020 Think conference in a physical space to pivoting to a 360-degree digital event strategy that cascades across IBM Think and all global events across the IBM and 3rd party event portfolio.  

An essential part of this pivot was realigning IBM’s in-person brand activations to not only meet the needs and behavior of IBM’s target audience but also the needs of global teams to use at their events around the world.

GPJ has been producing virtual event experiences since 2008, and has developed many successful in-person brand activations for IBM (one example is the Smarter Business Engine) so it was no surprise that IBM turned to GPJ to help implement a digital-first activation strategy – defining what they mean and the role they play within a digital event experience.

Our Approach

We started this journey by going back to the basics of what truly defines the successful delivery of an activation. What we discovered was that activations aren’t tied to physical or digital. While the format may change, the core components don’t.

They are still attendee-centric experiences that:

  • Maintain the immersive, interactive and emotive qualities of an in-person activation
  • Increase lead quality with engagement 
  • Serve as a seamless hand-off to a conversation with Sales 
  • Offer an opportunity for social amplification, community-building, analytics and personalization

IBM and GPJ partnered to identify in-person activations that not only can be adapted to a digital format but also demonstrate IBM’s role in the future of technology and tackling major global challenges. 

Here are a few examples of what to expect in the coming weeks:

The IBM Quantum exhibit showcasing a quantum computer model has been traveling to marquee events and has been a huge draw for IBM.

Now, IBM and GPJ are taking this exhibit online – adding features that will allow guests to get a closer look inside the full quantum technology stack in ways that aren’t possible in the physical exhibit. Digital overlays will provide interactive visuals about the hardware, integrated systems, cloud services and software platform with aspirational calls to action that entice you to speak with an IBM expert. 

Think Cities is another IBM activation that’s moving to the IBM Cloud. Originally slated to be physically built, attendees will look beyond their traditional screen with the opportunity to sync the content through their mobile phone. 

Content will feature a stylized future city, with landmarks of a port, factory, home, and surrounding landscape, online. After selecting their topic of interest, attendees will navigate directly to the interactive site for the experience, which will illustrate how IBM technologies are transforming our cities and our lives. 

Quantum and Think Cities. 

And we’re just getting started. 

Follow us along our journey as we make this dream a reality through a three-part blog series. We’ll be revealing our work along the way and you won’t want to miss our ground-breaking results after the event.