How did a smartphone application become one of the most discussed highlights at last year’s championships? IBM Seer could ‘see through walls’; allowing audiences to enjoy Serena’s serve and Rafael’s return like never before. A combination of innovative technology and savvy PR helped make IBM Seer iTunes’ “App of the Week”. This is how:
The biggest attraction of The Championships at Wimbledon is also its greatest frustration: so many tennis heroes playing on different courts at the same time. It is impossible to see it all! Add in the vagaries of public transport in London (and, more importantly, where to buy your strawberries and cream) and you have yourself a uniquely British tennis fans’ dilemma.
Using augmented reality (AR) technology, IBM Seer could literally ‘see through walls’ of Wimbledon’s main courts – traditionally an elite experience available to very few spectators. Ogilvy recognised that this role as an ‘enabler of the fan experience’ should be the key focus of the campaign since it made the story relevant to mass media and underpinned IBM’s ‘Smarter Planet’ point-of-view that the world can work better through the application of smarter technology.
Available on iPhone and Android, the free app offered live geo-tagged information about the length of queues, location of food and drink stands and other facilities, enabling fans to find the quickest routes to strawberries and cream and catch more of the court action, even if they are on the other side of the grounds.
What we had to do:
As the official technology partner for the world famous tennis tournament, IBM asked Ogilvy to create buzz around IBM’s Seer—the official Wimbledon Tennis app—and illustrate how the technology would enhance the Wimbledon experience through the smart use of data.
Through an integrated campaign Ogilvy had to demonstrate how IBM could make the world work better through the Wimbledon Championship experience, to deliver the Smarter Planet message to a broader audience of forward thinkers and to enhance the IBM Seer experience from 2009.
With this, Ogilvy also needed to elevate and extend the profile of IBM as IT innovators, achieve positive press coverage, both broadcast and online, across targeted UK media and underline IBM’s critical role as a Wimbledon technology partner.
The challenge / what stood in our way:
The summer of 2010 was a sporting enthusiast’s dream and a huge challenge for media. Which event would dominate the back pages of the nation’s newspapers? Rugby Union, The European Grand Prix, Cricket, Golf, the Tour de France and, biggest of all, the UEFA World Cup in South Africa. In such a saturated media environment, Ogilvy PR had to elevate awareness of IBM’s profile as IT innovators among consumers as well as CEOs, IT directors and managers.
Research / Background:
IBM is the official supplier of IT Consultancy to The All England Lawn Tennis Club. Since 1990, IBM has worked with the club to introduce new technologies that help bring the wealth of real-data captured during the championships to life and aim to enhance tennis fans visits by making their experience more engaging, accessible and enjoyable.
For Ogilvy Group UK’s longstanding client, Ogilvy was engaged to provide a complete 360° communications solution for Wimbledon 2010. The ‘IBM Seer’ augmented reality app was first developed for Android phones for Wimbledon 2009 and the concept was developed further for 2010 with a richer user experience including live location-based video feeds and an iPhone version of the app.
Ogilvy researched the user experience at Wimbledon to develop insights and conceptual ideas. Android, iPhone, apps and augmented reality were all identified as hot topics that could be leveraged to position IBM as technology innovators. The use of cutting edge augmented reality technology at a major sports event created a real thought leadership opportunity for IBM to bring this technology into the sporting arena.


The campaign strategy was “Making the Wimbledon experience better by using data in smarter ways”. In addition to the tech behind the scenes, a key hook was the use of mobile augmented reality to bring a new experience to those attending Wimbledon.
·            As Seer was first launched in 2009, highlight the new features – live location-based video streaming and availability on the iPhone
·            Utilise the power of video to communicate IBM’s key messages
·            Facilitate early demos amongst key influencers and encourage discussion
·            Position IBM and its spokespeople as technology innovators
·            Extend campaign reach by implementing a highly targeted digital influence and broadcast PR programme alongside the traditional press office function
Ogilvy devised a cross-platform broadcast, digital and print communications campaign to tell the story of IBM's smart use of technology at Wimbledon, to showcase the innovative IBM Seer app and to elevate awareness of IBM’s leadership and innovative spirit.
Ogilvy used video to communicate IBM’s key messages and facilitate early demos amongst key influencers to encourage discussion with traditional and social media, where two demo videos were shot plus pre-event B-roll. A preview day at Wimbledon with key influencers a week before the start of the tournament kick started the buzz and word of mouth. Extensive media and blogger outreach continued throughout Wimbledon, adding new angles as the news agenda progressed beyond The World Cup and launches of the iPad and iPhone4.
Influential or interesting tweets were re-tweeted and IBM’s Scouts, positioned throughout the grounds on hand to help promote, provided live updates from Wimbledon via the @IBMScout Twitter handle, set up by Ogilvy.
A grand slam of coverage served up by Ogilvy. Over half an hour of prime broadcast airtime, engagement with 40,000 people on Twitter, IBM Seer gaining ‘app of the week’ status on iTunes and a very healthy pipeline of sales forecasted in the £multi-millions.
Key highlights:
·          iTunes ‘app of the week’
·          170+pieces of coverage during and immediately following the tournament including 9 tier one broadcast items and 48 tier one media (60 pieces in 2009)
·          £1 million+ PR value - equates to a ROI of at least £100 for every £1 invested
·          300 million+ opportunities to see
·          More than 30 minutes of airtime on BBC Breakfast, Sky News, BBC Click, BBC Arabic World Service, BBC London News, BBC London 94.9 Sports Show, BBC 2 Working Lunch
·          Every 50 tweets reached 30,000 to 40,000 people (Tweetreach during Wimbledon)
·          Twitter: Over 5,910 mentions of IBM Seer and #IBMSeer used 5,777 times (as of 2 July)
·          4,069 YouTube demo video views
·          15,000 iPhone and 1,855 Android downloads (Android only in 2009, downloads totalled 550)
·          Even more than 2009, IBM Seer meant IBM held a visible brand presence at Wimbledon that evangelised new mobile technology. This showcase was the perfect example of making Wimbledon and consequently the world work better
·          The app proved to be contextually helpful, informative and smart – the ideal way to improve your day at Wimbledon
·          A healthy pipeline of sales leads – full revenue figures will be determined Q4
·          A number of award wins and nominations for the work including 2010 DMA —Gold—Best Use of Mobile
Ample results for IBM’s business case for Wimbledon 2011!
“This has undoubtedly been the most successful PR campaign we've done around Wimbledon in the five years since I've been here.” Alan Flack, Wimbledon Client & Programme Executive, IBM Corporate Marketing