IBM earned this year's top campaign honor for its effort to promote Watson's appearance on Jeopardy! Judges credited the campaign with taking a usually mundane subject – business computing – and crafting a program that caught the awareness of 70% of the US population.
The initiative was also named PRWeek's “Business-to-Business Campaign of the Year.”
When IBM took its Watson supercomputer to battle previous human champions on Jeopardy! during a three-month February 2011 stint, it created a cultural landmark. The program garnered its highest ratings in six years, and Watson was a trending topic on Twitter for all three nights.
The campaign included giving The New York Times Magazine full access to IBM's research team and sparring matches six months before Watson's appearance on the program. The company also invited 200 participants to viewing parties.
Media members were impressed. Time gave Watson the No. 9 ranking on its 2011 “100 most influential things” list. It also garnered 24,600 Facebook fans and 11,600 Twitter followers shortly after the program aired.
The campaign for Starbucks brand transformation by Edelman and Starbucks won honorable mention.
Finalists also included Edelman and Church & Dwight/Trojan Brand Sexual Health Products' “Trojan Pulls Back the Sheets on Sexy Tech” campaign; Edelman and the Gateway Center's “Home is Where the GIFT Is” effort; and Ketchum and DoubleTree by Hilton's “Cookie CAREavan Across America” initiative.
To view a complete list of winners of the 2012 PRWeek Awards, please click here.