Skip to content

Watson, Tell My Brand Story

“Come, Watson, come!” he cried. “The game is afoot.”
Sherlock Holmes, The Adventure of the Abbey Grange

Watson, developed by IBM, is a question-answering computer system capable of answering questions posed in natural language. Watson rose to national  prominence in 2011 by competing on the television game show Jeopardy! against former winners Brad Rutter and Ken JenningsWatson prevailed over the human competitors and received the first place prize of $1 million.


Now, IBM is focusing its artificial intelligence prowess on the billion dollar advertising industry.

Through its recent acquisition of the Weather Co. media properties, IBM is planning to roll out digital ads that people can communicate with this fall. Using Watson’s AI engine, advertisers will be able to produce display ads that invite people to ask Watson questions about their products, either by speaking or typing into a search box.

How might this work?  Well, you could envision an over-the-counter medication brand allowing visitors at to ask questions about drug interaction issues or potential side effects that the drug may cause. Or perhaps, Watson could answer a more subtle question like, “Will this drug hurt my kid?”

That said, most of the potential use cases suggested by IBM up to this point remind me of the Ask Jeeves advertising circa 2000.



The real question is: will Watson give consumers a reason to care, a reason to buy, and a reason to stay, with a simple, clear, and aligned brand story? Or, will it become just another advertising gimmick that creates more clutter and distraction for consumers in the marketplace?


“The premise of the hype cycle is that people tend to get over-excited about new shiny objects, and then they are disappointed when the shiny objects don’t change the world in the blink of an eye. That said, some of the shiny objects do actually change the world, given the right market conditions and some patience. And for marketers, this is where things actually get interesting. If the bright shiny object promises to get you to your Brand Destination faster and achieve your CLEAR goals, it may be worthy of further investigation and experimentation.”

Don’t Get Killed by Trends: 6 Critical Things to Consider Before Chasing Bright Shiny Objects

“Data! Data! Data!” he cried impatiently. “I can’t make bricks without clay.”
Sherlock Holmes, The Adventure of the Copper Beeches


In a recent TopRight blog post, we challenged marketers to bring more Science to the Art of the Story. We identified 5 key questions that you must answer to make sure you are effectively communicating your story from the customer’s point of view:

  1. Why should I care or even listen?
  2. What will happen if I engage with your story?
  3. How do I engage with you?
  4. Can I understand your story in 6 seconds?
  5. Where are you taking me? (i.e. What is the destination that I arrive at by engaging with you, buying from you, staying with you and advocating for you?)

Watson certainly knows how to answer questions – that’s it’s purpose, after all. But in this case, Watson‘s answers to these questions will make a big difference between the consumer thinking of the brand story as just another transaction in a world of transactional relationships, or a brand story that emotionally connects with their professional or personal journey.

Of course, the only story that really matters is the one where your customers want to become part of that story with you. And for them to do that, they need to understand it, and what it means for them, seen through the lens of simplicity, clarity, and alignment.

It’s elementary, my dear Watson.



Learn how to harness the power of your brand story to create a clear and compelling message that engages your customers and grows your business by downloading our latest ebook Transformational Marketing: Moving to the TopRight.




Elevate Your Brand With Topright — Where Strategic Insights Fuel Success

Let's Talk