When Benoit Mandelbrot first discovered he had a gift for mathematics, he says it was like "a curtain opening." He would go on to become the father of fractals, the hidden patterns of nature that have gone on to inspire artists and technological innovation.
Mandelbrot was an IBM fellow and worked at the company for more than 35 years before becoming a math professor at Yale. Now, IBM is tapping his story and the story of fractals to engage with a whole new generation. Ogilvy New York has blanketed the brand's Tumblr—the IBMblr—to spread the word on Mandelbrot and the role the brand has played in his work.
"The amazing thing about IBM is that they're involved with so many technologies and milestones that most of us have no idea, and that's the goal of this," says Ogilvy creative director Sam Mazur. "It's not like a soda brand that you hold in your hand all the time, so we need to use stories like this to help people connect with the brand. On the flip side, there are so many great stories at IBM, a soda doesn't have that kind of substantive depth."
To make the science more accessible, the agency also made The Fractalizer, which applies the Mandelbrot set to any Tumblr page or hashtag to create a whole new visual experience. The fractal-fest runs for four weeks, then will be accessible in the IBMblr's archives.