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Gateway 2000 today begins an estimated $20 million fall campaign with its first major work from D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles.

Gateway hopes some friendly persuasion will bring new customers to the direct PC seller; the agency is banking on a winning campaign to put in the past what both sides admit was a rocky start to the relationship.

The network and cable TV

drive introduces a new tagline, saying Gateway goes "From South Dakota to the rescue."


The PC marketer, based in North Sioux City, S.D., is using TV to reach out to the broad consumer market as well as business and Gateway's mainstay PC enthusiasts.

"South Dakota is a state of mind, a way of doing business, a way of dealing with people," explained Diane Krouse, managing partner of DMB&B, Los Angeles.

Ms. Krouse's office was the long-shot winner six months ago as first global agency of record on Gateway's estimated $70 million account, responsible for mass-media advertising. But there have been bumps as DMB&B gets to know the culture of Gateway, which continues to create its quirky PC publication ads in-house.

"I think the honeymoon was the worst" as both sides grappled with how to collaborate, said Jim Taylor, senior VP-global marketing. "It produced enough fireworks that there were rumors we were unhappy with them. I will tell you there were days we were, and there were days that Diane was not happy with us."

"I do think it's improving," Ms. Krouse said. "But you have to earn your relationship every day."


Mr. Taylor agreed things are improving, though he stopped short of adulation for the agency. But simmering rumors that Gateway will look elsewhere for an agency are, he said, unfounded.

In the humorous launch spot, a grandmother is in a consumer electronics store being fed a line by the sales rep on which PC to buy. A bank of TVs nearby then starts giving the woman hints that what she really needs to do is call 1-800-GATEWAY.

A second commercial, debuting in about a week, shows a family in a computer store, where the piped-in music segues into advice that the family had better get what it really needs from Gateway.

In a third spot, airing later in the year, Gateway will position itself as the solution for a stressed-out computer chief of a small company. The final commercial in the campaign will be a holiday commercial.

Gateway will augment the brand commercials with spots featuring a specific product and price.

DMB&B also is developing ads for newspapers and business publications. Gateway for now has no plans to run TV outside the U.S., Ms. Krouse said.

The new campaign is part of Gateway's stampede to be a broad-based PC marketer, moving beyond its roots in the enthusiast market. Last week, Gateway unveiled plans to expand its chain of Gateway Country company stores to about three dozen locations nationally by Christmas from the current 10.

Gateway also unveiled a broad new line of business computers, taking on Dell

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