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IBM’s Supercomputer, Mr. Watson: Sniped by His Own Advertising!


I just saw the latest round of IBM commercials during  the 2017 Augusta Master’s Golf tournament. Every TV break seemed to feature heavy play by this little box that’s called Watson.

Watson is pretty cool. For instance, he knows more famous people than I do. People like my pastor‘s favorite singer, Bob Dylan…

I get it. He’s brilliant. That is, my pastor and Watson. The latter crushed it on Jeopardy as you can see below…

The clip above showcases Watson at his best… but it seems to me these commercials demean dear Watson. Watching them I conclude:

He’s smart, but stupid. He computes well, but fails in human interaction.

These latest ads, in exactly the same way as previous ones, most remind me of the famous volleyball Tom Hanks befriended when he was shipwrecked on a deserted island.

The brand becomes the ball’s name, with “Wilson.”

Is this the association IBM wants to make with potential clients?

IBM's wilson and Moskel Marketing

That’s endearing, but in my humble opinion, IBM’s strategy falls short.

Here’s the problem: were I strategizing for IBM, I would want to position my company as  producing smarter computers. Which they do.

These ads depict Watson as having still a lot of work to do.

After watching half a dozen of these, I’m left shaking my head and wondering aloud: How did these ads make it onto my television?

To me, it’s incomprehensible. Watson is the butt of the jokes, and fumbles through social interactions with predictable consistency.

I looked up a few things on IBM’s Watson strategy, and found this on Ad Age:

“Digital is not the destination but the foundation for a new era of business,” reads the insert. “We call it cognitive business, and IBM Watson is the platform.”

IBM does run their creative in-house. And they should, since they’ve been buying up agencies around the globe and are considered a force in the (advertising) industry.

Perhaps that’s for the best, in case other potential tech clients agree with my assessment of Watson as I do…

…someone (thing) not quite ready to join the starting team. And that’s the kicker: he is ready, but I think Watson perhaps should look for a new agency.

Here’s some of the ads I don’t think are right for IBM’s Watson:

Watson in the basketball gym…

Watson failing a co-worker as she tries to evade an admirer…



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