During the Fox network's airing of "Ally McBeal" tonight, Big Blue will begin a $150 million marketing campaign to tout its "middleware," the behind-the-scenes software that powers computer operations such as databases and e-commerce.
The ads will be shown during other prime-time network and cable shows, sports broadcasts and Sunday-morning news programs, IBM said. Print ads will start in June, with online ads in the summer. Later this year, the campaign will extend to Europe and Asia.
Although IBM garners $13 billion a year in revenues from its middleware, apparently that's not enough. The company wants to raise the profile of its software as it faces competition from the likes of Sun Microsystems, Microsoft and Oracle.
This is one of several multimillion-dollar campaigns to emerge from IBM. The company also is trying to boost its server and data storage business.
High-tech campaigns are providing ample employment not only for ad agencies, but also for Starfleet officers.
IBM's ad will feature Avery Brooks--Captain Benjamin Sisko on "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine." Priceline tapped William Shatner, Capt. Kirk on the original "Star Trek," to plug its online barter business, and Microsoft called on Patrick Stewart, the man behind Jean-Luc Picard on "Star Trek: The Next Generation," to help launch Windows 2000.
Ads also will appear during "The X-Files," "The Wonderful World of Disney," "Futurama," "Voyager," "7th Heaven," several late-night talk shows, the NBC Sunday night movie, "Frasier," "48 Hours" and "Dateline NBC."