3Com staging its brand as communication leader

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3Com has begun its most extensive effort yet to promote itself as a brand of consumer electronics and technology products, by weaving its name into a new branding push for its U.S. Robotics' x2 56K modem.

New TV spots and print ads mark the first time 3Com has linked itself with the recently acquired U.S. Robotics, and more will follow, said Neil Clemmons, 3Com's VP-marketing.


He said the company "looks to become a household name."

"The strategy is to begin to position 3Com as a leader in communications in consumers' minds," said Mr. Clemmons. "We'll be looking to take the 3Com brand name into the consumer marketplace on a range of products."

3Com will soon be the brand name on all products--video conferencing, hand-held computers, telephony to name a few--coming out of U.S. Robotics, except for modems, where U.S. Robotics will remain the primary brand.

Copy in the new ads reads: "U.S. Robotics x2 56K modem by 3Com."

The advertising represents the third wave of a branding push created by Leap Partnership, Chicago, that began in January. The first ads, pure brand-building, featured astrophysicist Stephen Hawking. A second wave that broke during the spring starred astronaut Sally Ride and had tags for local Internet service providers, a new co-op marketing tactic 3Com plans to continue.

The third wave touts the new things that can be done with faster modems.

A spot that broke last week features several kids in a barber shop talking about how they're able to get real-time streaming video or audio, although one mopey kid feels left out because his parents still have a 28.8 modem.

The punch line has the 65-year-old barber consoling the boy by saying, "We were all 28.8 users once."

The campaign, which also promotes a $50 rebate, is being supported by a multimillion-dollar media push, but Mr. Clemmons wouldn't specify the budget for the effort. 3Com said it will spend between $60 million and $70 million in advertising this year.

The new spot will run through September in 26 major markets.


The ads seek to be multigenerational in their appeal and put a human face on the sometimes cold, complicated world of technology. But building brand awareness in modems is what's most important to 3Com, at a time when its x2 K56 technology is dueling with Rockwell Semiconductor System's K56 Flex chip to become the industry standard.

Rockwell launched its own branding campaign in June, from Bozell Worldwide, Costa Mesa, Calif..

Copyright September 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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