HP's Web campaign hits business users

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Hewlett-Packard executives knew its new palmtop computer would appeal to two audiences--tech-savvy consumers and information technology professionals.

However, the company's ad budget was limited. So while HP decided on a print campaign in publications such Fast Company, Wired and PC World to reach cutting-edge consumers, it also will launch today a Web campaign targeted at business IT managers.

"Both audiences are important to us," said Steve Weeks, HP advertising manager for palmtops.

Using Microsoft's new Agent technology, the mini-Web site uses a "Merlin" character to guide users through the site and features of the HP 620LX palmtop PC.

Created by Darwin Digital, San Francisco, Saatchi & Saatchi's stand-alone new media company, the campaign includes banner buys on general tech sites such as news.com and zdnet.com.


"[Merlin] adds some personality and interaction that you haven't seen often. And that helps our brand," Mr. Weeks said.

Because the Agent software is Microsoft-only compatible, users need to have an Internet Explorer browser to get Merlin. Users without Explorer will get a personalized tour with balloon boxes instead of the talking character.

However, Darwin Creative Director Steve DiPaola said target audience members typically use PCs at work with high speed access.

"In the corporate environment, if something neat is on someone's screen, people gather around to look and they want it, too. It's called virus marketing," he said.

Copyright March 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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