Direct PC seller selects Donino for brand initiative

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CDW Computer Centers, the latest computer direct marketer to embrace brand advertising, last week named Donino, White & Partners, Atlanta, as agency of record.

Donino, a growing tech agency, prevailed over finalists Euro RSCG DSW Partners, Salt Lake City, and Foote, Cone & Belding, Chicago and San Francisco, according to people familiar with the review.

CDW considered more than 25 agencies, including incumbent Mobium Creative Group, Chicago. Insights in Marketing, Wilmette, Ill., was review consultant.

One of the nation's largest direct-market resellers of computer products, CDW said it will spend $85 million through December 1999 on advertising, marketing, PR, and catalog production and mailing.

Donino will handle brand advertising, splitting the ad account with an in-house group that does CDW's product ads.

STEPPING UP BRAND ADS

CDW had done some brand advertising with Mobium, but it's stepping up activities with the new campaign, expected to include TV; business and computer print advertising; and online ads.

President-CEO Frank Donino said the new campaign will be launched Oct. 1.

CDW last year spent $44.7 million on ads, catalogs and marketing, according to Securities & Exchange Commission filings. Co-op reimbursements from computer-product makers paid for about two-thirds of that. The vast bulk of the spending was for catalogs and direct-response ads selling product to CDW's target of business customers.

Harry J. Harczak Jr., chief financial officer, said CDW is leveling off spending in catalogs and direct response. Much of the incremental ad budget stemming from CDW's growth now will go into brand ads, he said.

"The commitment to the branding side is much more significant than it has been in the past," said Mr. Harczak. "When the catalog gets there or when [customers] get a phone call from an account manager or they see a CDW ad, we want them to know" CDW and what it stands for.

DIRECT PC SELLERS TRY BRANDING

CDW, which sells name-brand products from such companies as Compaq Computer Corp., IBM Corp. and Microsoft Corp., is the latest player to embrace brand advertising in the booming direct market. Most notably, direct leader Dell Computer Corp. last month began a brand campaign. Gateway also has streamlined the look of its advertising to deliver a more consistent brand image.

Joe Kremer, CDW's VP-marketing, said the brand campaign and other marketing and PR initiatives will show how CDW's direct business model and culture make it the supplier of choice.

Copyright July 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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