Compaq breaks new TV spot on Grammys

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Compaq Computer Corp., working to broaden its image beyond PCs, breaks a long-awaited brand campaign with a 60-second spot on the Grammy Awards Feb. 24.

With its brand effort, Compaq is boosting overall global ad spending to more than $300 million, said Andrew Salzman, VP-worldwide advertising and brand strategy. That's a 50% increase from the estimated $200 million Compaq had been spending.

Print will remain the centerpiece of Compaq's global brand and product ads, but the brand effort also includes the largest TV and Web campaigns in the company's history, Mr. Salzman said.

Compaq's 60-second brand ``anthem'' spot, breaking on the Grammy Awards' U.S. broadcast on CBS, will promote ``the bigness'' of the brand and the breadth of Compaq's offerings, he said. TV spots will expand in coming weeks to global markets including Australia, France, Germany and the U.K.

The brand work began several weeks ago with a spread in key global newspapers using the theme, ``Compaq? Who knew?'' That ad talks about Compaq's leadership and innovation. The ad, which will roll out into business and computer publications, does take a few liberties. Regarding the search site AltaVista, the ad said: ``We don't just run it. We invented it.'' Actually, Compaq bought it when it acquired Digital Equipment Corp. last June.

Compaq, well-known as the world's No. 1 PC marketer, greatly expanded its portfolio with Digital, which gave Compaq a broader range of computers and an army of computer services professionals, as well as AltaVista. The Digital deal boosted Compaq's revenues last year 27% to $31.2 billion.

Mr. Salzman said Compaq wants to develop a brand image and ``soul'' matching its capabilities while giving the company a personality distinct from powerhouse rivals such as Hewlett-Packard Co. and IBM Corp.

``We want Compaq to be known as a computing partner of the Internet age,'' a ``pacesetter'' with a ``can-do spirit'' and ``a little more youthful than the IBMs and HPs of the world,'' he said.

Compaq is the latest to jump into tech branding. IBM is considered the leader in the space, with its e-business campaign. Hewlett-Packard this quarter is launching global brand campaigns for PCs, and for business computers and services.

Compaq will take a ``holistic'' approach in brand and product advertising, developing ads that can both sell the brand and the product, Mr. Salzman said.

Advertising will continue the signature ``Q'' and ``Better answers'' tagline Compaq introduced in its debut campaign last summer from DDB Needham Worldwide, New York.

Compaq last summer consolidated its global ad account at DDB Needham, Digital's former agency. Compaq works with various new-media shops, including DDB Digital and Agency.com, both New York. Draft Worldwide handles direct marketing.

The lag from June to late February to launch a TV campaign speaks to one of Compaq's impediments to delivering advertising: A consensus-driven approach that leads to an endless approval cycle for advertising. Compaq has moved to centralize more global functions with Mr. Salzman's group, a change that could lead to faster turnaround.

The ``centrally coordinated'' approach will let Compaq ``react quickly to market opportunities and make sure that the right people are involved,'' Mr. Salzman said. ``It's an old adage that fast companies beat slow companies. We have streamlined all of our key advertising processes to get the best work through with the least encumbrances.''

Copyright February 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

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