Headquarters: Palo Alto, Calif. Brand established: 1939 2005 advertising: $507.8 million 2006 Interbrand/BusinessWeek ranking: No. 13 Brand value: $14 billion CoreBrand ranking: 20
STRENGTHS: Roth: Despite confusion and turmoil in the board room, HP has not diverted its attention from its customers, who remain very clear about the value the HP brand provides them. Ries: With IBM selling out to Lenovo and Dell in the dumps, HP is on a roll. They should continue to do well. CHALLENGES: Ries: HP could benefit from pruning some of its poor performers, like digital cameras. Roth: [It] will be a challenge to keep the eye on the prize (its customers) and not get distracted by back- office politics on the front page.In a new commercial plugging Hewlett-Packard Co.'s Pavilion notebook, rap and clothing impresario Jay-Z is seen from the neck down talking about all the cool things he can do with his HP laptop.
Using his hands as "wands," Jay-Z conjures images that magically appear in mid-air. When he refers to his latest investments, for example, stock charts and bar graphs start to dance on-screen. The spot ends with the tagline, "The computer is personal again."
The campaign "extends the visibility of the brand and penetrates new markets," said Michael Thibodeau, managing partner and creative director at the Verse Group, which provides branding and marketing services. "It's very much like what Apple did with the `Think Different' campaign, which is the ability to match the brand with creators and doers."
Mary Bermel, director of interactive and emerging markets at HP, said the company is hoping to extend the ad campaign to target the business sector. "Consumers have a very special relationship with their PC, but that concept can be applied to business," she said. "[Executives] rely on technology, but their needs are different, and we need to celebrate those differences."
Ads for HP's "Change Artists" webcasts strictly target b-to-b buyers. The webcasts, which were launched in May and run occasionally, feature prominent C-level executives talking about the transformation of technology. Print ads for the series have run on the front page of The Wall Street Journal.
"[B-to-b] advertising is changing," Bermel said. "Whether you call it an ad or content, it's about providing value to the audiences we want to reach."
HP's branding efforts come amid a spate of negative publicity concerning the efforts of members of the company's board of directors to root out the source of boardroom leaks.
Thibodeau said he doubts the scandal will have an impact on HP's bottom line. "I don't see individuals associating the behavior of the HP board with their PCs," he said. "There's too much distance between the sale and boardroom activities."
However, Beth Zimmerman, a principal with Cerebellas, a strategic planning and marketing firm, said HP has a small window before the scandal starts to take a toll. "If the company doesn't right the ship within the next three to six months, you might have people thinking twice" about purchasing HP products, she said. —M.S.