Ammirati Puris Lintas
Branding is nothing new in the PC business-but it was back in 1991 when Steve Gardner and his team at Ammirati & Puris, New York, went to work on a branding campaign to turn around then-struggling Compaq Computer Corp.
Mr. Gardner, who last year became president of the agency, is quick to extend credit for the Compaq advertising success to his colleagues at what is now Ammirati Puris Lintas. He also praises Compaq's top management for developing the marketing strategy that put Compaq back on track in 1992.
"All of the branded computers, in my mind, have [Compaq president and CEO] Eckhard Pfeiffer to thank for proving they were not commodities-that there were differences, and to brand a computer meant something," Mr. Gardner says.
Ammirati Puris Lintas is well suited to executing such a strategy, Mr. Gardner points out. Particularly in the area of consumer advertising, the agency's founders "created a philosophy of building brands over the long term, through consistency and simple hard work, that I find to be the best rubric for success," he says.
Working with clients such as BMW, UPS and Burger King, the agency developed "a core expertise in brand building that we were able to translate to the computer business."
Dick Lord, chairman
Lord, Dentsu & Partners
Richard J. Lord literally put the PC into PC marketing. He and his creative team at Lord, Geller, Federico, Einstein coined the term "personal computer" as part of the TV and print campaign that launched the IBM PC in 1981.
Now chairman of Lord, Dentsu & Partners, the 71-year-old advertising maven recalls fondly the creation of that campaign, which carried the tagline "a tool for modern times." Featuring Charlie Chaplin's Little Tramp character, the campaign ran worldwide from 1981 to 1987.
At the time, "people thought IBM was too big, too cold, too remote; that it was threatening; that it wasn't user-friendly or warm," Dick Lord says. The Little Tramp commercials dispelled those perceptions.
"In the agency we called the character `Everyman.' He was a man beset by modern times-a little guy in a big world," Mr. Lord says. Because of IBM's insistence on secrecy surrounding the launch of the IBM PC, the agency could not test the ads with consumers before the campaign broke.
Mr. Lord believes the lack of research actually contributed to the campaign's success. "If we had researched it, we could never have sold it," he says, explaining that Charlie Chaplin's non-mainstream political and moral beliefs might have emerged as a problem during the research.
Instead, the campaign met with enthusiastic response from consumers and went on to win numerous creative awards.
Apple Computer has spawned several marketing luminaries, among them Guy Kawasaki. Currently an Apple Fellow (a company guru), Mr. Kawasaki played a leading role in the Apple Macintosh's successful introduction in 1984.
His focus on "evangelizing" the Macintosh leveraged the enormous brand loyalty of Apple customers. "Evangelism means you use fervor and zeal to make people not so much buy your products as believe in your products and help you sell them," Mr. Kawasaki explains.
"The surprise was how willing people are to help you if they believe in your company and product-without compensation, without anything," he adds. "You could make the case that Apple Computer is successful today despite itself, to a great degree because we have millions of loyal customers. There is no company in the history of America that has more loyal customers than Apple Computer."
After working at Apple from 1983 until 1987 as director of product management, Mr. Kawasaki left for several years to create two software companies. He returned to Apple to accept the marketing fellowship in 1995.
Brian Sharples, president
As high-tech markets have matured, so have the tools used to make advertising decisions, thanks to research pioneers like Brian Sharples. Mr. Sharples, 36, is president of IntelliQuest Information Group Inc., an Austin, Texas-based market research firm.
IntelliQuest, which went public earlier this year, develops survey-based research tools to help high-tech companies make effective advertising decisions. The company's tools track worldwide purchase dynamics and brand awareness, performance and equity for technology products. Advertisers use the information to shape ad budgets and creative.
"Our real contribution to the industry has been in helping companies' transitions from a hip-shooting approach to one that is based on market fact and market information," says Mr. Sharples.
"We're the first to admit that high-tech marketing is both an art and a science," he adds. "The science part of it historically has been ignored by a lot of people. What we've done is make the science part of brand building and high-tech marketing important and useful."
Branding is a key issue for IntelliQuest, which has helped several leading high-tech advertisers hone their branding strategies.
"We realized years ago that brand marketing was going to become more and more important in high-tech markets," Mr. Sharples says. "We saw that products were becoming more of a commodity than the industry would like. And, because of the reliance on OEMs [original equipment manufacturers], marketing was going to become a significant point of differentiation. When we started trying to get our clients to understand how important it was to focus on brand building and brand equity, we didn't realize how important that would become. We have been pleasantly surprised with the response."
Allen Kay, chairman,
Korey, Kay & Partners
Brother Dominic, the monk in Xerox's award-winning advertising dating to the '70s, is a classic in the annals of high-tech advertising. Allen Kay is the man behind the monk.
The original Brother Dominic TV spot (first aired in 1976) was named one of the 50 greatest TV commercials by Advertising Age, and the overall campaign, which gave a warm glow to photocopier advertising, is now in the Clio Hall of Fame. The campaign included eight commercials and ran until 1982. During that period, the Brother Dominic character took on a life of his own.
At times, "the monk character actually made Xerox sales calls himself," Mr. Kay recalls. "There was one Fortune 100 account Xerox was trying to crack, and they couldn't get in. Jack Eagle, who played the monk, said, `Let me take a crack at it.' He walked into the chairman's office in his monk robe . . . [and the prospect] became a Xerox client. Brother Dominic opened the account."
The 50-year-old Mr. Kay, now chairman and director of strategic planning at Korey, Kay & Partners, New York, worked as an art director/writer at McCann- Erickson upon graduating from Art Center College in Los Angeles in the late 1960s.
He developed the Brother Dominic campaign as creative director on the Xerox account at Needham Harper & Steers, New York.
Asked his philosophy of high-tech advertising, Mr. Kay says, "Always keep people in mind. Always remember what benefit the technology provides, because that's what people are interested in. What it is isn't important-what it does is. Think of what you're doing in terms of flesh and blood. By nature, machines are cold. Warm them up."
The challenge for advertising professionals, he adds, is to take a technology product and "translate it into human terms."
James Garrity, VP-communications
Compaq Computer Corp.
Eventually, every high-flying high-tech company stumbles. Houston-based Compaq took its most serious header in 1991, when a changing PC marketplace sent the company's sales sliding. Compaq recovered nicely, however, thanks in large part to the efforts of James Garrity.
Mr. Garrity, now Compaq's VP-communications, joined the company in 1992 after more than 20 years in sales and marketing at IBM Corp.
His first challenge at Compaq, as defined by the company's CEO, Eckhard Pfeiffer, was to help reposition Compaq for success in the new global marketplace.
"The repositioning was to send a signal to the market that we were moving very quickly away from being a `product-centric' company to being a `customer-centric' company. That's a journey we are continuing," the 50-year-old Mr. Garrity says.
In June 1992, with the introduction of a revamped product line and greatly reduced prices, he says, "We launched a new era. We called it `The New Compaq.' We turned our entire product line upside down.*.*.*. To this day, people refer to the price wars of '92 that Compaq set off. We immediately began regaining market share and riding a wave that continues to crest for us." Today, Compaq ranks as the top marketer of PCs in the U.S., with a 12% market share.
Leveraging the Compaq brand was crucial to the turnaround, and the effort continues to fuel the company's success. Mr. Garrity says "It is a single brand strategy, with Compaq being the dominant thought and dominant expression in everything we do."