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Lenovo aims to raise its profile in the SMB market

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In July, Beijing-based computer maker Lenovo introduced a rebranding campaign in the U.S. The effort was designed to raise awareness of Lenovo following its acquisition of IBM Corp.'s personal computer division in 2005.

"The sweet spot of the campaign is really the SMB [small-and-midsize business] market," said Glen Gilbert, VP-integrated marketing communications at Lenovo.

"We are well-established in several countries, most notably in China and India. We'd like to have a higher awareness and positive perceptions in this country and in several others."

The integrated campaign, developed by Ogilvy North America, New York, has the theme "Best engineered" and uses Lenovo's continuing tagline, "New world. New thinking."

The campaign, which also targets consumers and larger businesses, includes print, online and out-of-home ads. The budget was undisclosed.

"The notion of `Best engineered' is carried throughout all of our communications," Gilbert said. "It uses hyperbole, or exaggeration, to catch the viewer's or the reader's attention."

Extreme conditions

A series of print ads, running in publications including VARBusiness and Computer Reseller News, shows Lenovo engineers testing ThinkPad notebook computers in a variety of extreme conditions.

For example, one ad shows an engineer in a scuba-diving suit, submerged in a tank of water, holding a ThinkPad computer. The copy reads, "How much liquid is too much liquid?"

Another ad shows an engineer in a hazardous materials suit, holding a Lenovo notebook computer over a vat full of liquid nitrogen. The copy reads, "The notebook doesn't have to survive. Just the data."

Other executions show the notebooks being tested in other extreme conditions, such as being held while an engineer jumps 25 feet from a platform wearing a giant airbag suit; floating in a weightless chamber used by NASA to train astronauts; and crashing into a wall at 35 mph.

"This campaign is really edgy and out there, and it has a little bit of attitude," Gilbert said. "That will really help establish Lenovo as a different kind of company than its predecessor."

Lenovo carried its "Best engineered" theme online, with a series of videos that were taken during the photo shoots for the print campaign.

The videos are roughly one minute each in length and use documentary style to show how the computers were tested.

For example, during the "water tank" video, copy flashes on the screen reading, "On January 23, a Lenovo ThinkPad was submerged in 378,000 gallons of water."

The video then shows an engineer being suited up in scuba gear and dropped into a tank with the ThinkPad, while Lenovo researchers monitor the computer's performance in a lab environment.

Later in the spot, copy appears stating, "Lenovo ThinkPad: Spill-resistant to 60 cc's today. Tomorrow, who knows?"

The videos, which are featured on a Lenovo microsite and in online banner ads running on sites such as PCMagazine.com and PCWorld.com, have also been posted on YouTube.com and other social networking sites.

"The production value is a little more rough than in TV spots, so there is a better chance of going viral," Gilbert said. "There has been some nice viral pickup."

In addition to print and online ads, Lenovo also ran versions of the campaign in innovative out-of-home placements, including large dioramas at airports throughout the country.

For example, at the Los Angeles International Airport, the campaign included video and still ads shown on 12-foot-by-6-foot backlit displays in nine arrival terminals.

The ads highlight Lenovo PCs' features, such as wireless capabilities, and show how the computers work under adverse conditions.

"The campaign was really born out of a great deal of research," Gilbert said. "It establishes our brand as something we can deliver on, and it resonates with our target audience."

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