Launching a new product by celebrating 50 years of innovation.

Using a seminal moment to change perception

Case Study

z Systems experienced significant market share increase plus

118% year-over-year growth

Press mentions of Mainframe50 in excess of 57,000

Engines of Progress videos have more than 500,000 views

Using a seminal moment to change perception

The mainframe was about to celebrate its 50th anniversary, and IBM knew that this could be not only a cause for celebration but an opportunity to shape the perception of the past and future relevance of the technology.

We partnered with IBM to build awareness around the continuous innovation of the mainframe, focusing on stories of transformation, as well as underscoring how many of the world’s largest businesses depend on its value. Working with IBM, we created various pieces of strategic content which helped change perception of the mainframe, as well as the market for the launch of z13 – the newest, most innovative model.

IBMz January 2015

The importance of learning the audience

Primary research and stakeholder interviews helped identify themes and trends around the IBM customer experience, mainframe brand identity and overall perception. The deeper understanding of pain-points, buyer concerns and line of business gaps were critical in developing a strategy to accomplish the perception shift and inform the conception and creation of content.

Celebrating  world-changing efforts

The “Engines of Progress” videos provided the high-level perspective of the power of a mainframe that would speak to a C-suite executive and simultaneously engage the end user, while providing the opportunity to learn more every step of the way.

Subtle sales pieces that are compelling, educational and inspirational, they had corresponding case studies and infographics for each story, all housed on the “Engines of Progress” section of the anniversary website.



Initiating education, support and awareness 

Each of these five animations contain short, compelling stories about the mainframe that dramatically increase awareness of mainframe capabilities and individuals’ reliance on them. These pieces challenged the notion that the mainframe is no longer relevant, showing how the mainframe plays an integral part in keeping our data both universally accessible and secure.



Influencing and educating future business leaders

Created as part of the Mainframe50 celebration, the World Championship “Master the Mainframe” Competition pitted the best and brightest students from around the globe against each other in the ultimate test of coding skills.

The goal was to connect future business and IT leaders before becoming the influencers and decision makers of the future, helping them start their professional careers with the right perception of the technology.

Unifying the different parts of the story

“50 Days of 50” was the theme for the Mainframe50 Tumblr page, with each day corresponding with the release of new content that fell into the categories of mobile, cloud, big data analytics, secure transactions and academic initiatives.

Web layout

  1. 40,000+ visits

    to the page

  2. 14,000+ visits

    to the live stream event

  3. 57,000+

    total press mentions of Mainframe50

  4. Highest retweets

    IBM’s Mainframe50 tweet announcing the milestone is officially the most retweeted tweet from @IBM

  5. Awards

    The campaign received multiple awards, including a MarCom, Stevie and AVA Digital Award

Mainframe processes 30 billion business transactions every day

Z13: The newest, most innovative mainframe

Following the Mainframe50 campaign, IBM z Systems had a recently educated audience who was primed to realize the many benefits of the technology and who would be more likely to purchase the newest, most innovative mainframe from IBM: the z13.

Building on the success of the Mainframe50 initiative, Centerline partnered with IBM to launch an integrated campaign that would inform consumers and prospects about the product’s capabilities and differentiators in the realm of the global economy.

Kicking off the campaign

During the Mainframe50 effort, we helped the IBM marketing team define their varied target audiences, so the next step was to engage each of them with specific content and provide them with much deeper insight on z13.

The campaign focused on deeply technical details that demonstrate the platform’s innovation and added value, showing business leaders that implementing new technology is the only way to keep up with the global economy.

Assets to educate and sell

Centerline put together an integrated campaign built around a narrative of the specific ways z13 can work for the mobile and app economy.

We crafted a 35-minute short film as the anchor asset, and all other assets either directly or indirectly supported the film’s messaging – the drastically changing business conditions and why the capabilities of z13 are essential.

Many assets were in market before the z13 launch to drive the audience to register for the live event. Other assets, including videos and presentations, were shown at the actual event. And on the day of the launch, more specific assets went live and were pushed on z Systems’ blog, z Systems’ home page, their YouTube channel and other social channels.

“The IBM z13 launch was a tremendous success…

delivering 118% year to year growth in the business and significant market share gain. The fast start and effectiveness of the campaign can be attributed to the great partnership between the IBM team and our trusted partners like Centerline Digital. Centerline Digital’s marketing efforts were strategic, creative and of the highest quality.”

Deon Newman

Deon Newman

Vice President, Marketing,
IBM z Systems/IBM LinuxONE

The strategy and content – launched during Mainframe50 – positioned the z13 for launch by piquing interest in potential consumers, and reminding them of the power and value of the mainframe. IBM was able to speak to the audience in a way that was technical, informative and engaging – ultimately educating businesses on the z13 mainframe’s added value and driving them to buy.