Making an Elephant Dance

Client: Micro Focus

Type: Integrated / Creative

Micro Focus, a global software company that bridges the coding gap between old and new IT systems, approached BBN UK (London) to help address the mainframe’s reputation in the marketplace.

People have been saying mainframe is a dying business for years. Yet 85 percent of the world’s mission-critical business applications run on COBOL and the mainframe.

It’s not all rosy, though. At the time of our campaign, the mainframe was the elephant in the room: that big thing nobody really wanted to talk about. Mainframe customers believed they were stuck with its shortcomings – high running costs and a lack of innovation and flexibility.

Turning the mainframe on its head

Micro Focus had created a new Mainframe Solutions product set. This would make the mainframe a whole lot more agile, so an enterprise could create and deploy more innovative systems.

BBN UK (London) decided it was necessary to turn the market’s perception of mainframe agility on its head – literally. They created a series of “agile” mainframe animals: an elephant on its trunk, a gorilla sprinting and a rhino leaping. Visually, they quickly communicated that the mainframe was now a different beast altogether.The message and strapline was “there’s a future in the present.”

Aimed at CIOs of IBM’s largest mainframe customers, senior C-suite and IT management, the campaign ran worldwide and included video, press and online advertising, direct mail, email and a 24-foot life-size elephant sculpture – more than 50 assets in eight languages.

The results stand up

Following a two-year decline in sales, the sales pipeline for Micro Focus mainframe products grew 500 percent during the first six months of the Elephant in the Room campaign. “Trampolining elephant” became Micro Focus’s most viewed video ever within three months. The campaign won the Grand Prix, Best Use of Creative and runner-up for Best Product Launch at the B2B Marketing Awards in the UK.