INTEL PILOTS CAMPAIGN WITH HIGH-TECH EDGE

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This is a story about a marketer pushing technology full bore to manage global ad campaigns.

OK, so the company, Intel Corp., is somewhat biased when it comes to the miracles of technology.

But in the spirit of companies eating their own dog food, the world's largest computer chipmaker is counting on PCs, software and videoconferencing to make its advertising truly global for the first time.

The initial TV commercial created under this new approach, for the Pentium chip, breaks in the U.S. this week and in eight other global markets later this month.

Intel began turning its attention from engineers to consumer marketing only six years ago, but it'll have even less time to make the global transformation.

Intel used to ship off U.S.-produced spots to other regions "and sort of hope for the best," said Ann Lewnes, worldwide advertising manager.

U.S. PC buyers once bought into a new technology, like the 486 chip, months or even years ahead of other regions. But that regional variation is closing rapidly.

Non-U.S. computer markets are growing faster than the U.S., and Intel already puts 60% of its estimated $125 million ad budget into international advertising.

Intel now wants to cast aside its former U.S.-centric approach to creative and produce global TV spots. There is a bottom-line reason for this lofty goal: While Intel's revenue last year soared 31% to $11.5 billion, Ms. Lewnes' ad budget will grow only nominally this year. Tightened production expenses will free money for media.

Ms. Lewnes also is intent on bringing Intel global marketing executives into the process without creating bureaucratic, advertising-by-committee gridlock.

The company is relying on Dahlin Smith White, Salt Lake City, to create global TV spots. But Intel is trying to include its international agencies-Publicis in Europe, Dentsu in Japan, Euro RSCG Ball Partnership in Hong Kong-in the creative process. Each places media in its market.

Intel is following the lead of other technology marketers in taking a more global approach. While many, including IBM Corp., Apple Computer and Digital Equipment Corp., have hired global agencies, Ms. Lewnes said Intel doesn't plan to go that route.

But Intel is creating a virtual ad team. It is connecting Intel offices and agencies with Lotus Development Corp.'s Lotus Notes software, giving all parties access to creative briefs and strategic information. It's also connecting key points with videoconferencing, allowing Dahlin, for example, to make long-distance creative presentations.

In the next year, Intel wants to put a system in place, possibly using its home-grown video system on PCs, to allow video to be downloaded easily around the world. "What we'd like to cut down are the overnight nightmares" of worrying whether the right tape is in the right place of the globe, Ms. Lewnes said.

Outsiders may not see any difference in Intel's first global creative. In the interest of world harmony, the new 30-second spot breaking next week includes a reference to soccer. Software packages in the spot were chosen for their worldwide appeal.

With its new approach, Intel runs the risk of creating uninspiring, homogeneous ads. But Ms. Lewnes is leaving the door open to regional variations. And Intel for now will leave print advertising up to each region.

"In the end," she said, "what we'll have is a product that works better in all our countries."

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