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It's like a barn

It's like a barn

If you're familiar with the Internet, chances are good you know about YouTube. Whether you have a video posted to the site, or you're one of the thousands who've viewed that video of an exploding whale, you know at least a little bit about the ubiquitous free Adobe Flash video-sharing Web phenomenon.

Also among the hundreds of thousands of personal videos, television clips and general displays of human embarrassment, three "mainframe sales" videos exist on YouTube as proof IBM has a sense of humor about itself.

In the videos, dubbed "The Art of the Sale," Bob Hoey, IBM* System z* vice president of worldwide sales, expounds on the mainframe's important selling attributes, both in personal interviews and while conducting a sales training seminar. It's the deadpan delivery of downright outrageous statements and scenarios that make the series probably the funniest YouTube IBM videos available. They're probably the only YouTube IBM videos available, so the competition is admittedly weak, but still.

Such self-deprecating videos aren't a new concept; these videos have been made to kick off meetings and seminars in the past, but the efforts have usually remained largely internal to IBM. "The Art of the Sale" videos were conceived, written by and star Tim Washer, System z field and executive communications director.

"We did the first - what we called 'Hoey video' - at the end of 2004. Its initial purpose was to take one of Bob's key messages that he wanted to deliver to the System z sales team, about the need for more cross-brand teaming within IBM to drive increased client value, and put that in a fun, interesting format, in a short, humorous video that we'd show at STGU (Systems and Technology Group University)," says Washer. "For the most recent 'The Art of the Sale' videos, we wanted to focus on our new value proposition of the mainframe and the three key points - economics, security and energy efficiency - and present them in a humorous fashion. At that point, we decided to experiment with YouTube, bringing them to a potentially much wider audience, while still focusing on our internal audience."

It's been estimated the videos have been viewed on YouTube more than 200,000 times, reaching established mainframe enthusiasts, and tapping into the pool of younger IT professionals being targeted by IBM to replenish the mainframe ranks. Since the videos went live, the mainframe blog's ( traffic increased ten fold, while the IBM mainframe Web site's ( weekly traffic doubled.

Ryan Rhodes is a freelance writer for IBM Systems Magazine.

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