IBM is one of the world’s great companies. Its hundred-year history includes spearheading the mainframe computing revolution in the 1960s, building a machine that beat Kasparov at chess in the 1990s, and most recently Watson, the intelligent system that won Jeopardy!. But its past was holding it back, both financially (73% of its revenue came from legacy products like mainframes) and perceptually (Business Decision Makers used words like “old”, “dated” and “boring” to describe IBM). IBM urgently needed to prove itself as a leader and innovator in today’s IT.
73% of Millennials have risen into decision-making positions in their company and IBM projected they will represent most of its market opportunity by 2017. Qualitative research also showed they were less fearful than Qualitative research also showed they were less fearful than their seniors of adopting artificially intelligent technology suggesting that – if we could reach them – they would be prime early adopters of Watson.
The 2016 Met Gala’s theme was Manus x Machina—hand vs. machine. The red carpet would be full of celebrities modelling tech-themed designs, like Taylor Swift in Louis Vuitton and Beyoncé in Givenchy. But to capture the imagination of millennials, we wanted to create a dress where technology wasn’t just decoration, but integral to the creative process and the design itself. We partnered with haute couture fashion brand Marchesa to create a dress that thinks and learns—a dress that can understand and incorporate trends, interact with other people, and respond to online feedback in real time by changing colour.
A red-carpet appearance along with promotion across social platforms and a custom content piece featured on New York Magazine’s, The Cut, gave the dress the platform it needed to surprise and delight the millennial audience. Once millennials were hooked, the landing page we created drove the user journey to completion by providing information on relevant Watson and IBM technology.