DECIDING WHERE TO THROW INTEL'S CO-OP ADVERTISING WEIGHT: JAMI DOVER

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Jami dover this year will spend an estimated $900 million on advertising -- a budget higher than Intel Corp.'s total revenues in 1980, the year she signed on. That makes Intel the biggest tech ad spender on the planet, giving Ms. Dover a tonnage of clout.

"I would characterize it more as a responsibility than clout," says Ms. Dover, VP in the sales and marketing group and director of worldwide marketing operations.

Most of the ad money -- about $750 million -- goes into the massive "Intel inside" co-op ad program. Ms. Dover, 39, likens the co-op to "a trust fund for the brand." The rest pays for Intel's own global advertising, handled by the Euro RSCG network globally.

Intel is unusual in its heavy reliance on co-op advertising. The chip giant rebates up to 6% of chip purchases in the form of partial reimbursement for ads placed by PC makers.

"This is Intel's primary means of marketing," says Ms. Dover.

The co-op program, started in 1991, subsidized PC makers' print advertising when Ms. Dover joined the corporate marketing group in 1994. Under Ms. Dover's direction, Intel expanded the program to TV and then Web advertising in 1997 -- giving PC makers a strong incentive to expand beyond print.

Ms. Dover had been running the co-op program, but in April moved up to her current post, taking the day-to-day responsibilities of veteran Intel VP Dennis Carter, who cut back to a part-time strategic role as he prepares to retire.

CAREFUL PLANNING

Ms. Dover oversees advertising, co-op, integrated marketing, market research and PR. She is married to another Intel VP, Steve Nachtsheim.

Ms. Dover says Intel has been careful to add a medium to the co-op mix only after the company has reached a "critical mass" in media already in the program. Likewise, Intel wants to add only media where it can build that critical mass.

Intel expanded co-op to TV after concluding PC's had become a mass-market product primed for TV.

"It was important that we get [PC makers'] advertising in a medium that was really much more targeted at the consumer space," says Ms. Dover.

The plan worked: U.S. computer advertising on TV shot up 65% in 1995, the first full year when Intel paid out broadcast co-op money.

The Web didn't meet the test last year as a medium where Intel could have a critical mass, Ms. Dover says, but Intel began subsidizing interactive ads because the company saw the Internet as central to technology, a strategic medium and a critical element in the next wave of advertising.

A SIGNIFICANT EFFORT

Through the co-op program, Intel is reliant on customers to help build its brand.

"A significant majority of our marketing dollars are done through co-op advertising," says Ms. Dover. "Significant enough that we can't necessarily alter that by the [Intel-placed] advertising that we do."

Ms. Dover acknowledges Intel early on couldn't have predicted the magnitude and impact of its co-op program, which exploded from $100 million in 1992, its first full year, to the current level. But she says, "I know the importance of it was absolutely understood."

The co-op focus makes sense given Intel's role as a product ingredient, Ms. Dover says. "We need to have our brand talked about in the context of the product our end user is going to purchase."

Ms. Dover believes the co-op program delivers on the ultimate goal: Increase the amount of PC advertising to boost interest in PC's, resulting in more PC sales and a bigger market. This is crucial for Intel, which as the dominant chip supplier needs the market to grow if it is to grow.

PC makers and media often gripe privately about the complexities of the co-op program -- but few turn down the money. Ms. Dover argues Intel has worked to make the program more flexible; PC makers praise Intel for its willingness to test new ideas in the Web co-op program.

However, Ms. Dover notes so much is on the line for Intel that it intends to move carefully.

"We always talk about not wanting to go down that slippery slope of doing something that we regret," she says. Ms. Dover runs a trust fund, and she intends to invest the money wisely.

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