Man vs. Machine: IBM’s Watson Faces Off in Historic Jeopardy! Competition Winner
When CBS Television Distribution came up with the idea for its Man vs. Machine Jeopardy! Competition, it faced the challenge of raising interest in a nearly 30-year-old TV show. After a year of planning, the PR team pulled it off. “It was a textbook example of proper planning and creative execution,” one judge said. “The oad media coverage was very impressive.” The two main objectives were to increase viewership of Jeopardy! during sweeps week and position the game show as an important place to test artificial intelligence, which is where Watson, IBM’s supercomputer, came into play. IBM and CBS worked together to create the idea for the Man vs. Machine competition. Prior to broadcast, a live game demo was held pitting Watson against former Jeopardy! champions Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter. Leading up to the event, the PR team generated tremendous buzz by connecting with national online and print media outlets and tech-focused communities, as well as local reporters in 15 US cities. Thecampaign earned Jeopardy! its highest ratings in six years, increasing 30% from the previous year. It also led to 230,000 unique visitors to jeopardy.com. “It shows how a big idea, solid partnerships, and a mix of nostalgia with a pop culture twist can drive business results and coverage,” said one judge. Stories about the competition appeared in outlets across the US. The campaign was featured in a front-page story of The New York Times, an eight-page cover story in The New York Times Magazine, a cover highlight story in Time, and many other print outlets, including USA Today and Newsweek. It also garnered coverage with 50 radio and 65 TV interviews.
CBS Television Distribution and Jeopardy!