At a time when hacking dominates much of the news, HP is turning to Mr. Robot himself to highlight its new security platform designed to protect business printers. The Palo Alto-based company has tapped Christian Slater for a year-long digital series called "The Wolf" in order to draw attention to cybersecurity in the workplace.
"Sheep never realize a wolf's around until it's too late. Then they do exactly what the wolf expects them to do. They run into each other, they fall down—they become dinner. Time to eat," says a spectacled Mr. Slater in the series' 30-second trailer. The first six-minute episode shows the actor lurking outside offices, sending sheep cartoons to oblivious workers, crashing birthday parties and sending suspicious spa gift certificates via email. At one point, he even howls.
"Cyberattacks on enterprises across the world are only increasing," said Vikrant Batra, global head of marketing for imaging and printing at HP, noting that less than 20% of IT managers look at printers as a potential security hazard. "There have been several hacks in companies where folks have gotten in through the printer."
Creating its own web series is a first for HP, which introduced the "Keep Reinventing" tagline and campaign two years ago. Four episodes, each about two minutes long, will debut Tuesday. "The Wolf" will continue with additional chapters throughout the year. HP, which spent about $206.9 million on total advertising in 2015, according to Ad Age's Datacenter, worked with Giant Spoon and Gyro on the effort. HP purchased Samsung's printer business in September, paying $1.05 billion for the division.
"As a company we are making a commitment to lead our markets in security by delivering the most secure devices in our category," said Antonio Lucio, global chief marketing and communications officer at HP. "T'he Wolf' is act one. As our customers reinvent their businesses for the 21st century, it is imperative that we reinvent how we talk with them about security."
HP is one of many brands using digital storytelling to create custom content for its audience. The new series is designed to target IT decision makers and chief information and security officers at companies around the world. Instead of a business-to-business campaign, Mr. Batra noted, the effort is more of a business-to-consumer angle push aimed at breaking through the clutter. He said that more than 55% of the IT community are older millennials—gamers who would appreciate a digital series that ties into Mr. Slater's "Mr. Robot" TV series.
"The way we approached the drama in the content is something we feel really engaged with an older millennial audience," said Mr. Batra. "It looks at them as millennials who have one life, not one where they operate differently at work than at home."
For the quarter ended Oct. 31, HP reported sales of $12.5 billion and net income of $500 million. The company spun off from its business-focused counterpart, Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co., in 2015.