After the merger: November set for new HP's ad debut

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Hewlett-Packard Co. officially kicks off its merged company in an anticipated $120 million-plus global branding campaign slated to break in November, executives close to the situation said.

The campaign, planned for at least 20 nations, will continue using HP's "Invent" line and will appear in newspapers, on TV, in magazines and on the Internet. The effort now going into production will be the first from the new HP, which completed its controversial $20 billion acquisition of Compaq Computer Corp. earlier this year to form a global computer powerhouse.

"Brand work is in development," said Gary Elliott, VP-brand marketing at HP, via e-mail, declining to comment further on the effort. Executives at HP's global branding agency, Omnicom Group's Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco, and from the agency for its printer and business divisions, Publicis Groupe's Publicis & Hal Riney, San Francisco, declined to comment.

The agency also is trying new print concepts such as internal gatefolds and a scaled down Reader's Digest-like version of HP's history.

The branding campaign follows an internal marketing revamp at HP that now requires marketing decisions be made through a complex matrix of HP executives around the world, an approval process agency executives have found to slow down decision-making.

"One could argue there are two times as many people involved at the marketing level," said one executive familiar with the process. "There's an unclear sense of who is in charge," the executive said. `"The Brady Bunch' worked fine on TV, but in reality it's difficult to have two families living under one roof."

wall street pressure

At the same time, HP is facing pressure from Wall Street as the information technology market slows. After its first 100 days as a merged entity, HP reported a $2 billion loss on $16.5 billion in sales. CEO Carly Fiorina, meanwhile, has promised savings of $500 million from the merger this year and $2.5 billion next year.

In one cost-cutting move, HP is reviewing 27 incumbent Compaq and HP shops for its consolidated interactive account, including brand strategy, production, creative, analysis and media, an HP spokeswoman said. The lead interactive shop currently is Interpublic Group of Cos.' Foote, Cone & Belding Worldwide's FCBi, previously agency for Compaq.

One bright spot for the company during its first post-merger days has been strong sales of its digital imaging systems, backed by a $55 million global TV, print and cinema campaign showing off the cameras as easy to use for everyday tasks. The continuing digital imaging campaign "will all work together in tone, manner and approach" with the upcoming branding effort, said Maggie McCue, worldwide ad manager, HP Imaging and Printing Group.

-contributing: tobi elkin

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