Serial, surround-sound campaign puts CDW in national spotlight

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cdwToday’s IT professionals must do much more than implement and manage technology solutions.  They must help their organizations derive real value from technology to meet business goals – from engaging with customers to improving efficiency to boosting sales.  CDW, a national technology solutions provider with 6,900 coworkers, helps its customers solve business challenges with technology solutions every day.  We developed our integrated “People Who Get IT” marketing campaign to reinforce CDW’s position as a leading IT solutions provider that truly understands its customers’ unique needs and works with them every step of the way to achieve their objectives.


Designed as a series, the campaign follows the fictional company Gordon & Taylor on its journey to uphold the company’s motto, “We Win at Everything.”  The campaign’s first iteration, “IT Ringer,” introduced the audience to the campaign’s anchor, NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley.  With Barkley’s help, Gordon & Taylor won a corporate basketball championship, won client business by losing in “Client Golf,” and went straight to its customers in a mobile office in “Winning on the Road.”  This fall, NFL Pro Bowl Quarterback Doug Flutie joined Barkley in “The Dome,” in which Gordon & Taylor is now so successful that it builds the most technologically advanced stadium in the world – backed by CDW, of course. The Dome concept is reinforced by CDW’s real-world examples of implementing technology solutions for a number of professional sports franchises and venues.

With an ongoing campaign of this magnitude, a surround-sound marketing approach – including a carefully crafted mix of TV, radio, direct email marketing, online, print, event and social media components – was critical. According to a 2010 Google study, “Zero Moment of Truth,” the average consumer needed only five sources of information before making a purchasing decision.  One year later, the average consumer needed more than 10 sources. Consequently, we know our customers are engaging multiple sources before making a purchase decision, so we have to be where they are.

To hit every touch point, CDW initiated an ongoing conversation across multiple channels to create an immersive, consistent and integrated brand experience.  We targeted the right people at the right time with the right messages.

Using a multitude of mediums, including advertising, media engagement, events, in-stadium ads, game-day digital signage, targeted email, and even the CDW Technoliner – our decked-out mobile technology vehicle that travels the country showcasing the latest innovative technologies and CDW’s expertise – we are driving customers through each stage of the purchase funnel, from awareness to engagement and consideration to purchase.

Strategy:  Align Tactics to Drive Customer Through Purchase Funnel

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Television, radio, print, and public relations were our initial drivers in sparking awareness of CDW and our partners as solutions providers.  Our partnership with major technology brands presented a significant logistical challenge as we planned, coordinated, and executed many marketing elements over the span of months for each campaign iteration, but the effort was well worth it.  In 2013, “Winning on the Road” generated nearly 120 million television impressions, a 9 percent increase from 2012, while radio created 124 million impressions.  Earned media added an additional 16 million impressions, of which 13million contained video. Also, we tested campaign elements and a survey of CDW’s Customer Advisory Board revealed that 85 percent of the target audience found the campaign components to be engaging.

Digital and social media campaign elements supported the broadcast marketing push and took the audience from awareness to engagement.  While many in the industry once believed that the Web could diminish TV and radio marketing success, studies actually show that social engagement enhances the use of these outlets by creating a community in which the audience can interact in real time.  Twitter users posted some 300 million tweets about U.S. television programs in the first quarter of 2013, according to a recent Nielsen study.  Nielsen also found that in the second quarter of 2013, 19 million people wrote 263 million tweets about live TV events, an increase of 38 percent from 2012.  People no longer simply watch a television program; they concurrently use social outlets to engage with the national audience – an enormous opportunity for marketers to become part of the conversation, interact with viewers and create buzz.

CDW has experienced this “Twitter-effect” during its campaigns. With the self-deprecating wit of Charles Barkley as a centerpiece, we saw many in the audience tweeting Barkley’s lines from the campaign. Our social media team was then proactive in engaging these individuals. This enabled us to leverage real-time feedback from viewers.

On average, during the “Winning on the Road” campaign, social media mentions doubled on a daily basis, and CDW’s Facebook page averaged 203 new “likes” per day.  CDW’s campaign microsites further increase visibility.  For example, the “IT Ringer” website had 85,000 visits, 70,000 video views and 7,500 IT solution video views.  The microsites not only engage and entertain our audience, they also enable us to educate our customers and prospects about our solutions offerings, as well as case studies that demonstrate CDW’s experience and expertise.

Finally, we took the audience from engagement and consideration to purchase with very targeted marketing.  Perhaps the most unique element of the campaign is our ultimate technology vehicle, the CDW Technoliner.  This hands-on outlet enables CDW to participate in local market events and generate potential sales leads.  Designed by world-famous West Coast Customs, the Technoliner gained even more visibility during an episode of the shop’s television show that aired on the Fox Sports Network.

The 48-foot Technoliner incorporates the first mobile implementation of Cisco’s StadiumVision, a dynamic, synchronized stadium video system, as well as a data center, high-density Wi-Fi network technology and a retractable 14-foot video wall. In addition, its mounted cameras, live video feeds, and powerful audio systems can be controlled wirelessly from a mobile app.  Showing our expertise and capabilities first-hand in such an engaging way for customers has proven successful.  For example, with our presence at the Cisco Live conference this year, we wanted to generate 500 to 700 new sales leads.  The Technoliner on the show floor proved to be one of the event’s main attractions, and we left with about 3,000 new leads, substantially exceeding our expectations.

The culmination of the “Winning on the Road” campaign was during the weekend of the NCAA basketball championship in Atlanta. There we unveiled the Technoliner, which was strategically parked behind the ESPN College Game Day set and was visible during many of the show’s broadcasts.  In addition, CDW had TV and radio coverage during the games, ads in the programs and hosted an event with more than 100 customers.  Finally, CDW executives discussed how it had upgraded the in-stadium Wi-Fi network in the Georgia Dome to improve the fan experience during the Final Four tournament.

While awareness and engagement are essential marketing metrics, we also expect to deliver sales.  And, the campaign results show that our surround sound strategy has been very effective.  The products, services and solutions featured in our campaigns have consistently shown above-category revenue increases.  In one product group, leads climbed 50 percent and sales jumped 120 percent.

The “People Who Get IT” campaign has enjoyed great success by bringing everyday business problems to life and addressing them – with technology and humor – to position CDW as a leading IT solutions provider.  With Barkley’s presence and comic timing a constant throughout the campaign, and our surround-sound approach, CDW reaches our audiences where they work, live, and play.  The campaign’s unique story line and consistent brand messaging have given the campaign longevity and produced real results by effectively spreading awareness, engaging with our audience, and ultimately, driving sales.

–Dean Lamb, director, integrated marketing, CDW