Gateway to sharpen marketing messages

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Gateway will aggressively sharpen marketing messages amid a management shake-up that's brought the company's founder and Chairman Ted Waitt back into daily management. Mr. Waitt's return and CEO Jeff Weitzen's resignation, among those of other executives, was sparked by the San Diego, Calif.-based computer marketer's $94.3 million fourth quarter loss and a softening in the consumer business. Mr. Waitt is expected to present a new business strategy Feb. 28 during an analysts' meeting. Stuart Redsun, VP-advertising, said there are no plans to scale back marketing and ad expenditures. "We're happy with McCann [Gateway's AOR, and an Interpublic Group of Co's unit] and with the Michael J. Fox campaign, our marketing team is intact and we think we're doing the right things to address the challenges we're having in the consumer segment," Mr. Redsun said. Gateway, which spends about $125 million on advertising, recently launched spots with Mr. Fox and a small-business ad push featuring Mr. Waitt created by McCann-Erickson Worldwide, New York and directed by Henry Cora. Mr. Redsun said Gateway will step up the small-business focus in the next wave of ads that will feature customers using Gateway solutions and tying in the company's 300 Country Stores that offer small-business services. "We're not looking for one piece of the business to bail out the other," Mr. Redsun said. Look for Gateway to make its marketing messages more visible. "We're facing a softer marketplace right now, we're going to fight to take share and we'll look for ways to take our message and make it more cohesive across channels ... the Web, our stores, media and events," he said. The cow-spotted brand will also focus on developing a segmentation strategy with more alliances like the one with Univision.

Copyright January 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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