Intel kicks off its campaign for Pentium III on the Super Bowl with teaser ads intended to prime the market for the fast new chip-and to position it as the chip for the Internet.
The Pentium III teaser campaign then will go dark after the Jan. 31 game, and return in mid-February for a two-week blitz before the product launch effort kicks in March 1, according to people familiar with plans.
Intel declined to comment last week about Super Bowl and Pentium III plans, but a review of three Pentium III teaser spots shows the direction Intel is taking. The animated spots, shot letterbox style, tease the arrival of a chip Intel contends is the needed ingredient for fast Internet processing.
"One small chip for your computer, one giant leap for the Internet," says one spot, which shows an Intel logo in the form of the moon.
A second spot, showing the logo rising like a sun and featuring the Beatles' "Baby, You Can Drive My Car," pronounces: "The Internet will deliver on everything it promised March 1."
The third spot promotes a similar message: "On March 1, the promise of the Internet will start living up to its promise."
Or, actually, on Feb. 26, which as of last week was expected to be the day when PC makers start advertising and selling Pentium III machines.
AUDIO CUES ARE TWEAKED
In a new twist, Intel jazzes up its universally recognized Intel audio "bong." In one spot, a piano plays the audio tag; a sitar plays it in another spot.
Information about the commercials was disclosed by an individual close to Intel. It wasn't clear exactly how or where Intel would use the work, though the spots' teaser approach meshes with what is known about Intel's plan to use the Super Bowl for a Pentium III teaser.
This is Intel's third consecutive Super Bowl appearance, but the first with ads from Messner Vetere Berger McNamee Schmetterer/Euro RSCG, New York. Intel awarded Messner Vetere its consumer account last year.
Pentium III-or "pentium!!!" in the chip's exclamatory logo-is Intel's new flagship PC chip, offering processing speed and multimedia capabilities designed for a faster Internet experience.
Intel can't control the "bandwidth" modem connections that bog down the Web.
MORE SPEED FOR SOME APPS
But Martin Reynolds, VP-research with Dataquest, said the new chip will speed up the Internet for challenging applications such as gaming, graphics and 3D effects by allowing data sent in compressed form to be decompressed at lightning speed.
"It's still a sort of leading edge thing, but there will be a significant percentage of households that will see benefits from Pentium III," Mr. Reynolds said.
He said Intel this year needs to drive demand for Pentium III with PC enthusiast consumers and with demanding business users. He expects Pentium III will become Intel's mainstream chip next year, when he estimates Intel will sell $10 billion worth of the product.
Intel's revenues last year, by comparison, were $26 billion.
"This Super Bowl, if you're looking at a $10 billion product, isn't a bad place to start," Mr. Reynolds said.
BULK OF SPENDING TO NEW CHIP
Given Intel's practice of shifting advertising to its next chip slightly ahead of when the majority of buyers actually move to the new chip, Intel is expected to put the majority of its estimated $150 million global budget this year into Pentium III advertising.
That doesn't include the huge amount of Pentium III promotion that will come from the estimated $750 million "Intel inside" program, which subsidizes PC marketers' advertising.
Mr. Reynolds said Intel has so flawlessly launched its last few flagship chips that he expects the same from the marketer this round.
With all that is at stake, he added, Intel cannot afford to bungle the launch.
"If they were to do anything other than a flawless execution," he said, "they