Businesses might consider their digital transformation efforts as an act of pushing boundaries and exploring new frontiers, but the most recent IBM TV commercial is a good reminder that few will ever top the ambitions of NASA during the Apollo 11 mission.
In a 30-second spot that consists entirely of archival footage, IBM effectively newsjacks the current interest in the recent 50th anniversary of the historical lunar landing on July 20, 1969. Starting with black-and-white images of the moon’s craggy service, astronaut Neil Armstrong can be faintly heard communicating back to a NASA command center in the background while a voice-over reflects on the importance of the occassion.
“Humanity went to a place it had never been,” the narrator says, noting how satellite technology and other communications equipment allowed the Apollo 11 mission to be shared with a wide audience. “That place wasn’t 240,000 miles away. For a few moments, it was right here, at home.”
Rather than simply bask in nostalgia, the IBM spot implies that organizations could aspire to similar greatness by working with the right partner, positioning itself as ready to “take the next giant leap” (presumably into the world of artificial intelligence and what it calls cognitive computing). The commercial ends with its “Let’s Put Smarter To Work” tagline.
Besides the TV commercial, IBM has developed a special hub that includes original clips from 1965 that showcase how its computers were contributing to NASA’s early successes. It also hosted a livestreamed event that brought together many of the technicians, engineers, computer programmers and others from its team who were part of the Apollo 11 project.