The Santa Clara, Calif.-based marketer of 3-D graphic cards that cost $200 and up has hired Select Resources International to find an agency for its first major ad campaign aimed at consumers. Nvidia wants to make the company as recognizable an ingredient brand as Intel, which spends millions pushing its "Intel Inside" campaign.
Nvidia-powered graphic chips are in computers made by companies from Dell and HP to Apple, and the company currently controls almost two-thirds of the market for desktop PC graphics cards.
The decision to step up marketing comes as the PC screen morphs from being powered by inexpensive, two-dimensional graphics cards to one portraying a 3-D world found in cutting-edge video games such as "World of Warcraft," everyday photos and even Google Earth.
It also comes at a time when Nvidia faces new competition from established players such as Intel, which has a high-end chip, and AMD, which is launching a competitor to Nvidia at the lower end.
Spending on the account is expected to be as much as $30 million to $40 million, according to executives involved in the review. A decision will likely be made in the spring.
The consumer push will mark a big increase in media spending for the company. Nvidia, which was named Forbes' company of the year for 2007, spent only $353,000 in measured media for the first nine months of 2007, and $2.4 million in 2006, according to TNS Media Intelligence.
A Nvidia spokesman, however, denied the company was conducting a formal review. "We do not have an agency ... and we're not looking for one," Nvidia spokesman Derek Perez said in an e-mail statement. "We're just talking with people and companies about new ideas, like we always do."