From frozen computers to hackers trying to get on Santa's “nice” list, the North Pole has IT issues that would give any CIO a headache.
These are just some of the technology problems CDW helps solve in a holiday-themed campaign, called “North Pole Inc.,” that takes a whimsical look at how the technology company optimizes the IT infrastructure for “the world's largest gift distribution network.”
The integrated campaign, which debuted last month, was created by Ogilvy & Mather, Chicago, and includes TV and online, with heavy use of social media. It is an extension of CDW's “People Who Get IT” campaign, launched in January 2011. (The campaign budget was undisclosed.)
Featuring Larry, the IT elf, the campaign is designed as a customer case study to show how CDW helps solve technology problems from data storage to security threats.
“We wanted to generate familiarity around CDW's capabilities with services and solutions, talking about technology problems in a way that shows how CDW might be able to help solve them,” said Neal Campbell, who was named senior VP-CMO at CDW last February.
However, he was not initially sold on the idea of featuring the North Pole as a customer case study.
“We started a case study program in 2011, helping people understand we have solutions and capabilities to solve their IT problems,” said Ann Batko, senior director-communications and brand management at CDW.
Last year, the company featured the NFL's Dallas Cowboys as an actual customer case study during the Super Bowl, and Batko and her team were looking for new opportunities.
“As the fourth quarter approached, we started thinking about Christmas, and we came up with the idea of doing a fictional case study and producing it just like a regular case study. But in this case it would be all about the North Pole and the kinds of business problems Santa would have—and how these problems would relate to the problems our customers have,” Batko said.
“When Ann came into my office, at first I said, "No way; we are not associating our brand with fictional characters,' ” Campbell said. “But after some discussion, we decided that as long as we made the technology problems real and linked them back to real capabilities CDW had put into play with real customers and real case studies, the whole thing would work.”
CDW turned to Ogilvy, its agency of record, to develop the campaign.
“There is a lot of technology marketing out there, and a lot of it is very smart. In order to make a difference and really cut through the clutter, we wanted to bring it down to a human level that is very relatable,” said Charles Brandl, managing supervisor of the CDW account at Ogilvy. “We wanted to think about the tangible problems every business has—from security threats to data loss prevention—and turn that into, "What would the problem be like at the North Pole?' ”
In concept testing for the online video, Ogilvy used its own IT staff, including IT Director Larry Gordon, whose first name was adopted for Larry, the IT elf.
In the TV spots, Larry, the IT elf, deals with an onslaught of IT problems at North Pole Inc. as the big delivery date approaches.
For example, CEO (Chief Elf Officer) Santa has 3 billion emails he wants printed out; kids are sending in 10GB video files for their wish lists; and computers are frozen in giant blocks of ice.
As if these problems weren't enough, reindeer are wandering through the server room getting tangled in wires, and an elf crashes the network when she plugs in Christmas lights.
On the website (www.northpoleitelves.com), these problems are fleshed out in more detail in a “case study” section, under topics including security, unified communications, infrastructure optimization and configuration. This section shows how CDW can solve the types of problems North Pole Inc. and other businesses face.
The website also features online videos; Larry, the IT elf's Twitter feed; downloadable “Elfspiration” posters; and an area where users can make a donation to a charitable cause. As part of the campaign, CDW is donating $250,000 to a number of charities, and it encourages users to contribute as well.
The campaign proved to be a big success, with more than 10,000 views on YouTube in the first few weeks.