PC BRAND SNAPSHOT

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Acer America: Caught attention of consumers, rivals and retailers in 1995 with Aspire, bringing consumer electronics styling to PCs. Hired Hal Riney & Partners, San Francisco, to build the brand; first TV ads debut this spring.

Apple Computer: Lost $740 million in recent quarter. BBDO Worldwide, Los Angeles, hoping to hang on. Chairman Gil Amelio unveils turnaround scheme May 13.

AST Research: Mounting losses and sagging sales put future in question, but 40% owner Samsung Group wants to rebuild the brand. Grant Johnson, director of worldwide corporate marketing, vows '96 U.S. spending will more than double; Adscope pegs '95 spending at $20.4 million, via Rogge Effler & Partners, Los Angeles.

Compaq Computer Corp.: In No. 1 global PC spot for nine consecutive quarters. Wins by executing basics, delivering what business buyers and consumers want, managing costs, and making money. Revamping sluggish notebook PCs and popular Presario home PC. Holding line on ad spending. Consumer ads from Ammirati Puris Lintas, New York, have appeal of classic Apple ads, important as Compaq moves brand into new consumer technologies.

Fujitsu PC Corp.: Swept into No. 2 slot in Japan in '95 by leading price war. Repeat of romp unlikely in U.S. because margins are lower and Fujitsu brand is less known. VP-Marketing Greg Chambers said ad launch set for end of second quarter; media outlets say placements moved back till late summer. Lai, Venuti & Lai, Santa Clara, Calif., handling launch after Fujitsu halted review.

Hewlett-Packard Co.: The hottest PC brand. Swept into top five in U.S. for the first time last quarter. Winning in U.S. and world with business and home, giving Hewlett-Packard product and geographic depth. Built retail support for Pavilion home PC before this spring's ad campaign. Saatchi & Saatchi, San Francisco, handling launch; winner of HP printer review could snare Pavilion.

Hitachi PC Corp.: Another new Japanese PC. Hired Hollywood's Seiniger Advertising Group, home of Apple/Microsoft/IBM creative veteran Robert Chandler. Western International Media Corp. handling print, TV buy.

IBM Corp.: World's biggest computer company slumped to embarrassing fifth place last quarter in U.S. PC market. Good: ThinkPads and Aptivas pack all the right stuff; no longer pushes OS/2 and PowerPC if customers want Windows and Pentium. Bad: still trying to match supply and demand. Till IBM learns to execute, PC ads from Ogilvy & Mather, New York, can't really deliver.

Packard Bell Electronics: No. 2 U.S. PC seller overall, but No. 1 in home PCs. Good: long ties with retailers, efficient, aggressive pricing. Bad: slowing sales growth, quality and support questions, reliant on low-margin U.S. home business. Legacy of co-op ads makes it more price point than consumer brand. If financial troubles continue, backer NEC Corp. might take over company.

Sony Electronics: Entering U.S. home PC market this year, with more ambitious products in '97. Working with Winkler McManus, San Francisco. Successful in parts and peripherals, such as monitors. Great brand, but failed multiple times in PCs.

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