HP Gets 'Personal' With Co-Created MTV Series

'Meet or Delete' Lets PC Maker Integrate More Than Products Into Reality Series

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YORK, Pa. -- Talk about really personal computers.

Hewlett-Packard, pushing the theme "The Computer Is Personal Again," has found its ideal match in MTV's audience of college students, whose computers are more like diaries than homework machines.
Meet or Delete
The look and feel of MTV's 'Meet or Delete: My New Life' mimics that of co-creator HP's latest ad effort.

The marketer and cable network co-created last year's reality series "Meet or Delete," in which college students, searching for someone -- a date, a roommate or bandmate, for instance -- chose from three candidates by snooping through their computers. The brand identity for HP was spot on, and the show was a hit with MTV viewers, who tuned in online, on TV and through mobile devices.

The show is back this fall with HP and MTV beefing up the challenges, the players and the scope.

Expanding the show's concept
"Meet or Delete: My New Life" expands the premise of the original series, showing what happens when four college students swap lives based on what they find looking through each other's computers. The new episodes premiered last week with the first of two U.S. broadcast specials on MTV and college sibling MTVU.

"Your life is on the computer," said David Roman, VP-marketing communications of HP's Personal Systems Group. "So if you get someone else's computer, you can figure out their life. ... The show really takes the computer and makes it come alive."

The original "Meet or Delete" concept is also back, with a debut episode Sept. 17 on MTVU, mtvU.com, and mtvU mobile. The episode features film director Joel Schumacher ("Phantom of the Opera," "Batman & Robin") on the search for a new assistant for his next movie.

"Meet or Delete" will also continue producing local content globally with the debut of eight original 30-minute episodes in Asia Pacific countries, and another four local episodes across 13 channels in Europe. Online viewers will also find a dozen or more new locally themed episodes across MTV.com sites.

Deeply integrated
The U.S. episodes are strewn with HP's branded ideas about its "personal" computer theme. The title design "Meet or Delete," for instance, is re-printed in the same typeface as the HP campaign materials, and the word "or" appears inside the HP hand symbol used throughout the campaign. The same shadowed hands control the vignettes, pushing and pulling pictures, info and graphics in the show's 15-second frenetic introduction, and throughout the show's segues.
In 'Meet or Delete,' a college students swap lives based on what they see in each others computers.
In 'Meet or Delete,' a college students swap lives based on what they see in each others computers.

Even the copy on the show mimics the HP marketing. "Nothing is more personal than your PC," intones the narrator of "Meet or Delete" in the season two premiere, adding later: "It's time for the PC to get personal again."

"What they've done is tied purchasing product to this idea, this cool association with youth and celebrity. And it doesn't have to be HP, right? You could do this with another computer. But HP thought of it and they branded it and that's something no one except Apple has been able to do in this industry," said Roger Kay, analyst with Endpoint Technologies Associates. "They've done a great job with it."

Initial results from last year's "Meet or Delete" seem to bear that out. An MTV survey revealed 65% of consumers thought HP was "more cool" because of its involvement with the show, while more than half also said they were more likely to consider buying HP products.

Alliance began under former CEO
HP's association with MTV began in the early part of the decade as both a vendor and co-marketer. The relationship was built out to include global sponsorship of the annual Video Music Awards, including specialized HP contests and promotions for MTV's young audience, under then-HP CEO Carly Fiorina. The alliance continued after Ms. Fiorina's departure, culminating in "Meet or Delete," which launched as part of HP's "The Computer Is Personal Again" campaign created by Omnicom Group's Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco, in spring 2006.

"A lot of Carly's ideas have been vindicated over time and I think it's been proven she was a good strategist. She just wasn't very good at operations," Mr. Kay said.

The MTV deal is just one of several important entertainment-marketing partnerships for HP begun by Ms. Fiorina. An ongoing relationship with singer Gwen Stefani recently spawned a new marketing campaign for its printing and imaging products. And HP's association with DreamWorks Pictures takes an even tighter turn this fall, when the studio's "Bee Movie" launches in November in conjunction with the debut of the next HP "Hands" ad campaign, featuring actor/comedian Jerry Seinfeld, who voices the lead character in the animated movie. Mr. Roman said filming on Mr. Seinfeld's HP ad wrapped last week.
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