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Nigel Dessau, VP-CMO, AMD Inc.

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Title: VP-CMO
Company: AMD Inc.
Years in current job: 1
Quote: "A classic error for marketing people is to make too many cuts in a down cycle. You need to actually place an investment in a down cycle. For us, that has been about investing in systems, technology, people and processes, so when business improves, we're able to scale."

Since Nigel Dessau joined chipmaker AMD Inc. a year ago, he has led the marketing department through a transformation that included streamlined operations, a new positioning platform and extensive use of online marketing—including a big push into social media.

Before joining AMD, Dessau was senior VP-storage marketing at Sun Microsystems. He also spent 19 years at IBM Corp., where he led the marketing strategy for the company's e-business and On Demand Business platforms.

Dessau said the AMD marketing team had three big challenges this year.

"The first is, how do we, as we articulate the value of our products, clearly articulate that value to the end user?" he said. "In a down economy, buyers tend to be much more careful about their investments. So the product marketing team really had to zero in on the value we put in the marketplace and how we articulate that."

To that end, AMD rolled out a new campaign that takes a different approach to discussing how PCs are sold.

"This is a radical change in the way we talk to consumers, retailers and suppliers," Dessau said. "As an industry, we're still selling PCs like industrial equipment—completely irrelevant to how people use PCs. The new campaign reveals new ways of talking about PCs, to make sure people have the system that is right for them."

The marketing team's second challenge this year was putting systems and processes in place to streamline operations and improve efficiencies. To do this, Dessau implemented a single product-launch structure (previously there were multiple such processes going on at once); reduced the number of global marketing campaigns from more than 900 down to four core campaigns; and consolidated global agencies from more than 1,100 to about 300.

"We've become much more disciplined in how we spend money and award contracts," Dessau said. "If you do it well, you can reinvest savings in other projects. This has motivated people to think through whether they are using money most effectively."

The third challenge was implementing engaging marketing campaigns in a down economy.

"Even as money was tight, social media has given us a great opportunity to engage with our community and facilitate the conversation," Dessau said. This year, AMD ramped up its use of social media, including online videos, blogs and social networks.

For its 40th anniversary this year, it ran a contest on YouTube in which users could submit videos wishing AMD a happy anniversary. It also ran an anniversary photo contest on Flickr.

Dessau said marketers need to be careful about how they use social media within their marketing efforts.

"Social media is not just a new way of push marketing," he said. "We have a thriving online community with our partners and enterprise customers who appreciate the value of having AMD employees openly addressing issues and listening to customer feedback. I use my blog not as a place to just push out content but as a platform to discuss and engage with AMD's partners, customers and enthusiasts." —K.M.

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