The man steering Hewlett Packard Co.'s marketing as it morphs into an end-to-end IT services giant spent the previous 17 years promoting theme parks. And Senior VP-CMO Michael Mendenhall, who joined HP last October from Walt Disney Co., where he managed marketing and communication for its Parks and Resorts business, said it couldn't be an easier transition.
“If you look at the heritage of these two companies, both were founded on this spirit of invention and optimism of what the future holds,” Mendenhall said. “Both companies embody that spirit today.”
Optimism certainly describes Mendenhall's attitude toward HP's ambitious plans, which run from recasting its image in the wake of recent acquisitions to reducing greenhouse gases and its carbon footprint.
Those endeavors won't be without growing pains, however: In mid-September, HP announced plans to cut 24,000 jobs, or about 7.5% of its workforce, to realize cost savings from its $13.9 billion purchase of back-end services leader EDS in August.
The acquisition, which followed other purchases such as the 2002 buyout of Compaq Computer Corp, gives HP the “end-to-end capabilities to meet any IT need,” Mendenhall said. “It gives us a terrific ability to go after share, and it complements what we already do.”
While traditional b-to-b and consumer advertising are still important to him—last year HP rolled out a $300 million global ad campaign for its printing and imaging business—a big part of Mendenhall's marketing strategy over the last year has been focused on the recently relaunched HP Labs. Instead of more than 100 small research projects, HP's research arm now focuses on up to 30 areas, including sustainability, intelligent infrastructure and dynamic cloud services.
“By putting a finite focus on the labs, we can bring to market the findings quicker,” Mendenhall said.
A big part of HP Labs is HP IdeaLab, a site that allows people to test emerging technologies for free, distribute them virally then report their findings in HP blogs. Mediascape (also called the Mscape tool kit) is one such technology that was rolled out via IdeaLab. The software, which works with a global positioning system device, enables users to create location-based games, tours and experiences.
Work from its Sustainability Lab has helped HP build its image as a pioneer in this area, Mendenhall said, from its program to recycle inkjet cartridges to its environmental packaging label that lists the amount of energy an individual product consumes and what percentage of that product was made using recycled materials.