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Lenovo Takes Product Demo to New Heights

Laptop Dropped From Plane Must Boot Up in 10 Seconds or Parachute Will Not Deploy

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Lenovo is about to take product demonstrations to a whole new height -- about 30,000 feet. A new marketing campaign for its laptops shows one being dropped out of airplanes attached to an unopened parachute. The only way the computer can "save itself" is by booting up in fewer than the 10 seconds it takes to hit the ground.

Lenovo's 'Boot or Bust' campaign
Lenovo's 'Boot or Bust' campaign

"We wanted to tap into a finding around consumer perceptions, and it's maybe not a profound finding, but people in general are not happy with their boot times on PCs and they think that it takes a long time. We wanted to play off that perception and show a boot up in an unexpected fashion," said Jeff Meredith , Lenovo's VP-mature markets. Discarded ideas included a Lenovo laptop on the tracks in the path of an oncoming train and in the middle of the road in car traffic.

The high-flying "Boot or Bust" campaign created by McKinney, Durham, N.C., is an extension of an effort running since May, "Those Who Do," an estimated $100 million campaign from Publicis Group's Saatchi & Saatchi, Lenovo's first "hard push" into the consumer market, Mr. Meredith said. Targeted at 18- to 24-year-old consumers, the campaigns go after a new audience for Lenovo, and one the PC maker is eager to get into its product line. The new effort will run across 11 countries.

The 18- to 24-year-olds are "technology influencers and we think our marketing and advertising will appeal to a generation that 's very interested in using technology to accomplish," said Mr. Meredith . "That's the age demographic, but the mindset demographic is really this 'do' mind-set symbolized by a desire to use technology for achievement."

Jonathan Cude, creative director at McKinney, said he thinks the work will also appeal to a broader audience, but in particular the younger people will appreciate the offbeat demo, "which speaks to doers and doing." Lenovo includes itself as one of those active participants as seen in the parachuting laptop in the 60-second online and cinema ad, but also in a behind-the-scenes "Mythbusters"-like video explaining how they did it that will also run online and along with the cinema ad.

The website,, launches today with online ads beginning next week, and cinema spots in a few weeks, Mr. Meredith said. The campaign will also use mobile and social media marketing built around customers own frustrated boot-up stories.

China-based Lenovo, which bought IBM's consumer division in 2005, has a lot of work to do in the U.S. consumer market. While it has a large market slice in China, the brand in the U.S. is better known for its ThinkPad IBM legacy products.

Lenovo's global market share in the consumer space was 6.7% in the first quarter of this year, according to IDC data, but its U.S. market share was only 2.4%. It ranked No. 8 in the U.S. behind leaders Hewlett-Packard (26.5%); Dell (16.7%); Toshiba (15.3%); Apple (11.5%); Acer (9.8%); Asus (5.5%) and Sony (3.3%).

However, Lenovo is considerably stronger in the commercial or enterprise space in the U.S., where has a 9.1% share and is third behind Dell and HP.

"The dilemma it faces is how do you go from a strong business sector brand with ThinkPad to a big transactional market like the consumer market, with the Lenovo brand," said IDC analyst David Daoud. "The U.S. consumer market alone was 8.7 million [computers sold] in the first quarter of this year, and with the worldwide market at 44.4 million, that 's 19.6%. Add in Western Europe, another 7.7 million and 17.4%, and that 's a considerable chunk of the worldwide market that 's difficult to neglect."

Lenovo's Mr. Meredith characterized the campaign as the first product proof ads in the "Those Who Do" umbrella campaign. More advertising and marketing emphasizing different product advantages will roll out online and in TV over the next few months, he said. The fast boot-up time was chosen first because Lenovo wants to take advantage of its head start over the competition. Mr. Meredith said that on average, Lenovo computers boot up 20 seconds faster than competitive models running Windows 7.

"If they want to grow, they have to reach beyond their comfort zone," said IDC's Mr. Daoud. "In the longer term, they'll have to reach consumers with a tablet product. ... But if you're not established with your core products, how can you compete with an iPad?"

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