By Barry Janoff
March 17, 2014: Charles Barkley is back for his third go-round as the IT nerd whose knack for winning on the court translates to more business in the office in a new multi-media effort for CDW to support the firm's technology solutions for business, government, education and healthcare.
The next generation of CDW's umbrella effort, "People Who Get It," entitled "Smart Growth," includes TV, radio and Internet ads breaking this week.
The broadcast commercials are scheduled for heavy rotation during the NCAA Div. I Men's Basketball Tournament on CBS and Turner stations TNT, TBS and truTV. Radio includes ESPN Radio and Westwood One.
Barkley, who will be on-air for CBS Sports-Turner as a commentator and analyst during March Madness games, has appeared in campaigns for CDW since 2012.
The former star for the University of Auburn and 16-year NBA veteran again plays an IT employee for the fictional firm Gordon & Taylor, where he has helped the underdog company win at basketball and football (despite having a football stadium but no team), inked new business by losing at golf and established a successful mobile office.
"I get to play the computer nerd in those commercials," Barkley said with a laugh during a CBS-Turner Sports media event in New York last week. "CDW has been a very gracious company . . . I don't do the CDW commercials for money. But I don't do it for free. When I partnered with CDW, one of the things I asked them was to donate computers to [schools in] poor neighborhoods and to poor students." (See the full Q&A here.)
Barkley, a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as well as the NBA's 50th Anniversary All-Time Team selected in 1997, will also appear in new commercials for Capital One that will air during the hoops competition.
In the new CDW campaign, Gordon & Taylor "feels the pressures that many fast-growing organizations experience — from hiring challenges to space constraints and bottom-line worries," but manages to work with the challenges to build for the future, according to CDW.
Partner solutions from Cisco, Crucial, HP, Intel, Lenovo, NetApp, Seagate and VMware are featured, along with the CDW capabilities that power them.
Playing off of basketball's concept of the sixth man, who comes off the bench to help win games, CDW said that its "professional expertise demonstrates that IT is the 'seventh man' that can provide organizations with a competitive advantage." As part of its online push, CDW has established a dedicated micro-site, What is the Seventh Man, to show how technology "is changing the way [basketball] is played."
Here, the focus is on how technology is helping to create "smart stadiums," such as the University of Duke's Cameron Indoor Stadium's use of SportVu, which tracks the movement of every player on the court throughout every game and during practices to combine statistics with biomechanics.
Social media presence includes Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and Spiceworks.
In the campaign's master spot, "Grow Smart," Jim Gordon, the CEO for Gordon & Taylor, explains that the company has become so successful, thanks to CDW, that he can throw money around, which he literally does during an executive meeting. Meanwhile, Barkley and his co-IT workers look on in disbelief.
"They get to throw money around and we have to watch every cent," says Barkley. But Barkley is proud of the role that solutions from CDW have played in making Gordon & Taylor a winning operation.
“We chose March Madness as the backdrop because technology coupled with professional expertise is truly the ‘seventh man’ for enabling smart growth.”
It turns out that Gordon doesn't want people to know how CDW has helped his firm — unless they buy his new book, Winning Is Everything, "available for $29.95." (See the full spot here.)
Related spots include:
• "Ice Sculpture," in which Gordon takes credit for the accomplishments of Barkley, the IT team and CDW and names himself Employee of the Month (and has an ice sculpture designed in his image).
• "Elevator Meeting," in which the IT team must meet in an elevator because CDW has helped them outgrow their office space (but also provides the solutions for new offices).
• "Stand Ins," which sees CEO Gordon hire lookalikes of the IT crew to help with the work rather than install new CDW systems, the latter of which Barkley supports.
• "New Hires," where the result of Gordon & Taylor growing so fast using intel from CDWis they are hiring people off the street, including mimes and other street performers. Again, Barkley stresses increasing support from CDW.
• "Rich and Famous," in which the success of Gordon & Taylor finally touches Barkley, who gets manicures and is able to relax on company time.
Ogilvy & Mather, Chicago, is lead agency for the campaign, which CDW’ called its "most deeply integrated to date."
“The creative concept for the ‘Smart Growth’ campaign is how CDW’s technology solutions support and amplify business operations to help our customers grow and succeed,” Neal Campbell, svp and CMO for CDW, said in a statement. “We chose March Madness as the backdrop for this campaign because technology coupled with professional expertise is truly the ‘seventh man’ for enabling smart growth.”
Q&A: Barkley Has A Few (Hundred) Words About the NCAA, NBA, Marketing
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