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POWER 50;COMPUTER WORLD'S TASK: SELL 1 BRAND TO 2 TARGETS;TECHNOLOGY: IBM, INTEL, COMPAQ,MICROSOFT SHARE SAME CHALLENGE

By Published on .

Before Intel corp. airs a TV commercial, it tests the message with everyone from home PC beginners to information systems managers.

"It's a challenge to create a TV ad that delivers to any audience," says Dennis Carter, the chip maker's VP-corporate marketing.

Making a single brand relevant to consumer and business targets is a common theme for Mr. Carter and the three other technology players in the Power 50: Jim Garrity, VP-communications, Compaq Computer Corp.; Bob Herbold, exec VP-chief operating officer, Microsoft Corp.; and Abby Kohnstamm, VP-corporate marketing, IBM Corp.

The four executives have made the Power 50 for the second consecutive year. Mr. Carter, 44, mastermind of "Intel inside," oversees the world's largest tech ad budget, with the bulk of the $700 million invested in co-op. Mr. Garrity, 50, who has guided advertising during Compaq's rise to No. 1 in global PC sales, this fall launches an ambitious brand campaign.

IN GOOD COMPANY

Ms. Kohnstamm, 43, manages an estimated $600 million global ad budget, and Mr. Herbold, 54, oversees an estimated $275 million ad budget, second only to IBM in media spending, and vows that Microsoft will be the biggest advertiser this year on the Internet.

Mr. Carter is in good company in studying the way consumer media reach the business market.

"We recognize that the CEO of a Fortune 100 company is going to see a Presario TV commercial on `Monday Night Football,'*" says Mr. Garrity, referring to Compaq's home computer subbrand.

The four brands have their roots in business, yet all have extended brand attributes to consumers. Compaq tries to convey "useful innovation" to both targets.

The concept grew out of Compaq's restructuring five years ago, when new management dumped a strategy of selling high-priced, often over-engineered PCs in favor of one emphasizing value.

Intel, too, has been able to show the benefits of its fast Pentium chip to both home and business buyers. Mr. Carter says business and home users in one global region have more in common with one another than do home PC buyers across regions or business buyers across regions.

In targeting consumers and business, the tech giants often find that one market feeds the other. Consumers gravitate to brands like IBM and products like the Microsoft Office applications suite in part because they are so omnipresent and proven in business.

"There are things that people believe about IBM that provide a halo for all of our offerings," says Ms. Kohnstamm.

Consumers also can be evangelists. Businesses generally are cautious in jumping to an unproven technology, while home users are more willing to try the latest thing. Consumers leaped to Windows 95 last year, putting pressure on their offices to upgrade operating systems.

"We have many examples of consumers getting Windows 95 at home and taking their learning to work-and bringing that to the attention of people" who control office PCs, says Mr. Herbold, a 26-year veteran of Procter & Gamble Co.

PRAGMATIC BROADCASTERS

The Power 50 foursome use TV for mass appeal, but they are pragmatic broadcasters. Mr. Herbold, for example, says Microsoft is cutting its global TV budget to about $100 million this fiscal year, from about $150 million last year for the Windows 95 launch. At IBM, Ms. Kohnstamm says TV accounts for no more than one-third of media spending and 10% of the marketing budget.

Increasingly, the action is on the World Wide Web. While the Internet may become a consumer medium, tech marketers today use it mainly to target business customers.

The rise of the Internet allows Compaq to simplify messages in business print ads; readers who want more detail are steered to Compaq's home page.

"The beauty of [the Internet] is the people who want that depth of information really do have access," Mr. Garrity says.

Intel uses its Web site to deliver information to key targets including business, retailers and PC makers. But Mr. Carter is cautious about Internet advertising.

"I think our experience and almost everybody's experience with advertising on the Net is it's experimental," he says.

The Power 50's biggest Web ad proponent may be Mr. Herbold, who says Microsoft this year will account for 5% of Internet spending, or at least some $13 million.

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