Re-THINKING Brand Activations: IBM Think City

The final chapter in our journey alongside the development of IBM’s digital-first brand activations showcases the work of IBM’s Think City. (You can view the previous posts here and here.) 

Think City was originally planned as a large-scale physical activation to debut at IBM’s Think 2020 flagship conference, but quickly evolved to digital-first as IBM’s global event strategy shifted to digital.  

For Think City, we focused on five strategic outcomes:

• Reimagine the digital-only experience based on how audiences navigate and consumer content virtually
• Enable audiences to form an emotional connection with the IBM brand
• Deliver provocative call to actions to enable deeper dives into complementary content and / or conversations
• Build the experience to be flexible and scalable to enable ease of local customization for global market reuse
• Enable data capture to track, assess and optimize performance

The Think City experience inspires audiences with impactful, humanizing stories of problem solving, success through reinvention, and working smarter. This mobile-optimized experience immerses attendees in a series of 3D industry environments: Smarter Port, Smarter Factory, Smarter Response and Smarter Living, which narrate and visualize how IBM is transforming industries every day.  

• Smarter Port – when the global economy becomes complex, IBM solutions help streamline practices so shipments and trade can move faster and with more trust.
• Smarter Factory –IBM’s Data and AI help improve all areas of manufacturing to minimize downtime and maximize throughput.
• Smarter Response – during a crisis, IBM technologies enable response and deployment more effectively.
• Smarter Living – when demands of life impact the quality of living, IBM solutions provide autonomy and freedom through peace of mind, in places where it’s needed most.

Through the partnership and collaboration with IBM, GPJ and sister agency Spinifex Group, the digital-first activation launched this summer and has been showcased across markets and industries including Think Summit Mexico and Think Gov. As with all digital activations, Think City tracks performance and engagement levels that carry through to both event specific and bottom-line results, with performance to date driving interest and demand in IBM solutions. The experience is also meeting a key strategic outcome of driving local market reuse due to its multi-language availability of English, Spanish, and French.  

While today’s global business climate calls for digital-first, the new normal of hybrid events are on the horizon in parallel with gradual global market recovery. To plan and prepare for the future of hybrid, we also produced a set of physical Think City activations to complement the digital-first activation.

The four mid-size activation units each feature a built-in touch screen tablet for user interaction with single-use stylus, voice-over through a built-in sound system, and modeled 3D environments that are LED animated to match the narration and storytelling. These were all strategically adapted to align to how attendees will likely engage with physical experiences post-recovery.

The evolved digital-first activations enable IBM to engage with audiences in new ways, move business outcomes forward and serve as the springboard as we continue to evolve brand activation experiences for the future of experiential and hybrid events.