Seagate Technology will spend $50 million on its first global TV and print brand and product campaign. But TV viewers will be hard-pressed to figure out just what the company makes.
To Seagate, the world's largest marketer of computer disc drives, that's the point. It is redefining itself as a marketer of hardware and software products that help computer users manage information.
The company's mass media drive--with ads from Foote, Cone & Belding, San Francisco--is the latest in a flood of business tech branding campaigns in which IBM Corp., Oracle Corp., Sun Microsystems and others have created a lot of clatter to break through the clutter.
Seagate makes more than one-quarter of the disc drives in PCs today. But the marketer must move beyond that low-margin business to increase profit and revenue, and it has invested heavily in software to back up, manage and access stored information.
"There won't be enough disc drives on the planet for Seagate to grow at the rate Seagate wants to grow," said Dave Clauson, senior VP-managing director at FCB.
Seagate is counting on the new campaign to create a broader image. Seagate spent just $3.7 million in U.S. advertising in the first nine months of this year, estimates tracking service Adscope. But it's expected to spend $50 million globally next year, primarily on brand ads but also including product spending.
The first-ever TV schedule broke Nov. 2 with three spots in 30- and 60-second versions on major prime-time and sports programs in eight key markets. Network TV and ads in U.S. business publications will start in the first quarter, running in tandem with ongoing product ads in computer publications.
SUPER BOWL BUY UNLIKELY
Julie Still, VP-corporate communications, said a Super Bowl buy "is certainly under consideration," though Seagate may pass since "it's an exorbitant amount of money."
The campaign also will expand early next year to Europe and Asia.
The TV spots indirectly deliver a message about technology through non-tech, appealing short stories about people seeking information. In one, a man lost and late to his wedding in Scotland asks locals for help, but they can't seem to give him a direct answer. In another, a parking attendant in New York is desperate to learn the score of a game, but his buddy is too caught up in the game to tell him.
"There's only one important piece of information in the world--the one you want," says a voice-over in the wedding spot. "Actually, getting the information you want is fairly simple, thanks to Seagate hardware and software."
The campaign introduces a new tag: "Seagate, information the way you want it."
The non-tech tech campaign was created by Paul Wolfe, FCB senior VP-creative director, who said the campaign has more in common with ads for Levi Strauss & Co.'s Levi's or a beer brand than it does with other tech advertising.
"These are universal values, universal issues," Mr. Wolfe said. "Everybody has a piece of information they need. Everybody relates to a story."
Ms. Still said business people seek solutions to information anxiety, or the management of an explosion of information.
`DON'T CARE ABOUT TECH'
"They don't really care about technology," she said. "What they do care about is information."
Ms. Still and Joe Jennings, a marketing consultant who has worked on Seagate's repositioning, said ads primarily target business tech influencers. And, they said, TV is an efficient way to get that message out even though it reaches millions of viewers not in the market for anything from Seagate.
Broadcast ads, said Ms. Still, are needed "to get us through the clutter."
Copyright October 1997, Crain Communications Inc.