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May 1, 2001

By Tobi Elkin

NEW YORK ( -- Compaq Computer Corp., the world's No. 2 personal computer manufacturer after Dell Computer Corp., will spend more

'Inspiration comes with no strings attached' says the new Compaq wireless print ad.

than half of its estimated $350 million global advertising budget on the latest wave of advertising breaking May 3 on ESPN.

The campaign, created by True North Communications' FCB Worldwide, New York, puts Compaq back on network TV in a big way after a hiatus of several months, with the exception of ad buys on CNN and some network direct-to-consumer advertising for its Presario PCs via Draft Worldwide, New York.

Starbucks deal
Also today, Compaq announced a five-year $100 million deal with Starbucks to become the coffee company's preferred information technology provider. The Starbucks deal also links

Ad imagry: rotten lettuce and integrated solutions to inventory management.

Compaq with Microsoft Corp. -- both of which will set up high-speed Internet access at the coffee giant's retail stores.

Compaq, in recent weeks, has led up to its new campaign with a series of what Gary Elliott, vice president of worldwide integrated marketing communications, refers to as "momentum" pieces -- print ads touting the company's leadership role with a customer such as Oracle Corp. or trumpeting strategic alliances with the likes of Yahoo! and the Walt Disney Co. Compaq was one of the first marketers AOL Time Warner signed to one of its much-ballyhooed cross-platform media deals.

TV blitz
Two of three new TV spots break Thursday on ESPN before hitting ABC on Saturday during the Compaq Classic, a top PGA tournament the company is sponsoring. At least three more TV spots are in development, while print advertising targeting business decision makers begins next week. Print ads are bound for The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Fortune and Forbes. Beyond North America, the campaign breaks in Europe the week of May 14, followed by the Asia-Pacific region.

Compaq with this new campaign seeks to portray itself as a provider of end-to-end technology solutions that deliver concrete results.

One of the spots features an executive making a warehouse visit. "Why is all that lettuce sitting there rotting?" he asks the foreman, who explains the serpentine communications process among vendors. The executive tells the foreman his company has a whole room full of equipment to manage the situation. But the foreman asks what good is that when suppliers are on the road? The spot ends with the voice-over: "We're putting the power of your IT infrastructure in the hands of your people with Compaq wireless access solutions." The spot touts Compaq's ability to resolve a business problem via its line of iPaq handheld devices.

"What we've found is that people just really want to get at it, they want to know how technology can work for them," Mr. Elliott said.

Battling slow sales
Like its tech brethren, Compaq has been battling a slowing global economy and soft PC sales. The new campaign aims to recast the company as an expert integrator of tech equipment and services beyond its own brand.

Last month Compaq folded its consumer and commercial divisions together after it said it found customer segments blurring. Mr. Elliot said Compaq wants its advertising to address the access needs of both markets: "We are looking at ourselves as redefining that access space," meaning access to information no matter the device or storage vehicle.

'Making the money go around'
Several new print ads will promote Compaq's partnerships, services, enterprise solutions and access devices. The latest wave of print advertising also marks the debut of a positioning statement -- "Innovative Products, Integrated Into Solutions & Delivered Globally" -- that Mr. Elliot says is "how we're defining who we are as we go to market."

One print ad touts Compaq's high-end severs that enable transactions on securities exchanges around the world. The headline reads: "Money Makes The World Go Around. We Make The Money Go Around." Another ad refers to an enterprise product that enables retailers to process information in real time, while another illustrates how Compaq outfitted 2,200 leaders attending the World Economic Summit in Davos, Switzerland, with iPaq Pocket PCs to access forum information, retrieve e-mail, make reservations and instant-message other attendees. Compaq's "Inspiration Technology" tagline remains.

Mr. Elliot said Compaq will feature some of its customers in print ads to emphasize its results-oriented message. "It's not droning on about 8,000 different elements and specificity. It's about good, solid, fast information that hits you right between the eyes."

Copyright May 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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