Michael Mendenhall

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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 span from recasting its image in the wake of recent acquisitions to cutting greenhouse gases and its carbon footprint. Those endeavors won't be without growing pains, though: In mid September, HP announced plans to cut 24,000 jobs, or about 7.5% of its workforce, to realize cost savings from the purchase of back-end services leader EDS, a deal which closed in August at an estimated cost of $13.9 billion. The acquisition, which follows other purchases including the 2002 buyout of Compaq Computer Corp, gives HP the “end-to-end capabilities to meet any IT need,” Mendenhall said. “It gives us terrific ability to go after share, and it complements what we already do.” While traditional b-to-b and consumer advertising is still important--last year HP rolled out a $300 million global ad campaign for it printing and imaging business--a big part of Mendenhall's marketing strategy over the last year focused on the recently relaunched HP Labs. Instead of more than 100 smaller research projects, the HP research arm now focuses on about 20-30 areas, including Sustainability, Intelligent Infrastructure and Dynamic Cloud Services, or Web services personalized based on person's location, calendar or community. “By putting a finite focus on the labs we can bring to market the findings quicker,” Mendenhall said, pointing to recent Labs products, such as its Dynamic Smart Cooling system, a way to reduce data center cooling costs by 25% to 40%. A big part of HP Labs is HP IdeaLab, a site that allows people to test emerging technologies for free, distribute them virally and then report back their findings in HP blogs. Mediascape, also called the Mscape toolkit, 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, and, so far, it's been widely embraced, even being used for oil exploration, Mendenhall said. Work from its Sustainability Lab has helped HP to build its image as a pioneer in this space, he said, from its program to recycle ink jet cartridges to its environmental packaging label, which lists the amount of energy a certain product consumes and what percentage of the product was made with recycled materials. HP Labs is “a big piece of how we define the HP brand,” Mendenhall said. “It makes it incredibly clear to our customers and consumers that HP is a company that's leading and defining new innovation. And we'll constantly innovate to provide our customers with the products and tools and services that will help them compete today.” --Patricia Riedman
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