Digital quashes FUD

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Digital Equipment Corp., reacting to the whacking it has taken from Hewlett-Packard Co. and others, breaks an ad March 12 affirming a strong future for Digital's UNIX and VMS operating systems and Alpha chips "no matter whose name is on the door."

"And now for the realities--instead of the rumors--about Digital technologies," says the ad, with the headline "q-u-a-s-h" in the style of the "d-i-g-i-t-a-l" logotype.

The four-week global print and Web campaign from DDB Needham Worldwide, New York, includes the logos of Digital and Compaq Computer Corp., which in January signed a deal to buy Digital.

Digital VP-Marketing Communications Mary Allard said the ad is a response to doubts about Compaq's commitment to Digital technology standards raised in HP's recent ads and in rivals' sales presentations to Digital customers. Digital doesn't mention competitors by name. Digital takes the "high road...rather than slugging it out in the mud" with HP, said Ms. Allard, a former HP exec.

HP in February ran ads from Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising, San Francisco, mimicking the look of Digital's ads, which in turn play off Digital's logo. HP pulled the campaign after Digital lawyers complained about trademark infringement.

"We had no intention of responding to the specific ad that HP placed, but there have been little dribs and drabs and rumors" about Compaq's commitment, Ms. Allard said. "It became clear that we needed to put a sharper point on the content out there."

The campaign is running "because of the FUD"--fear, uncertainty and doubt--"that's in the marketplace now, not directly as a reaction to the HP ad," she said.

She added: "We're hoping with our executions that we show HP and Saatchi what real creative looks like."

"The future of Digital UNIX, Alpha and OpenVMS can be summed up in two brief phrases: Continued success. Continued support," says the print ad.

Compaq approved the campaign, which steers readers to a Web site featuring letters from the CEOs of the two companies.

"We could have run this ad without Compaq's name on it," said David Ganz, DDB management supervisor, but including Compaq's logo "sort of slam-dunks it. There's no way you can question whether Compaq is waffling on" commitment.

The global campaign breaks in The Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, San Jose [Calif.] Mercury News and Financial Times, and also will run in business and computer titles as well as two Asian business newspapers. An extensive Web banner ad effort supports the campaign.

Copyright March 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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