AMD Touts Gaming Cred in Ad Push

Chip Maker Bets Greater Consumer Awareness Will Help Turn Around Its Business

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AMD is trying to use its gaming cred to capture more consumer interest and broaden its business.

Using the tagline "If It Can Game," the chip maker launched its first consumer-facing campaign in January. Best known among gamers and computer makers, the effort has increased brand engagement, website traffic and survey feedback, Chief Marketing Officer Colette LaForce said in an interview.

The global campaign has used print, digital and in-store ads to deliver the message that if its processor chips can make the most graphic-intensive games more enjoyable, it can deliver a better experience in any device a consumer uses that needs a chip.

Since the campaign's launch, AMD has received an average of 13 million page views per month on its websites, with traffic up 30% since the beginning of the year, according to Ms. LaForce. She also noted that survey data showed major improvement from a year ago.

"The surveys we did before the campaign showed that our brand was not where we wanted it to be. Our messages were not resonating outside of the gamers and builders; there was no connection, the message was too technical and not about the experience," said Ms. LaForce. "Gaming has become so popular. We are in all the major [gaming] systems and we wanted to tell that story. At the same time we had been fighting to return to profitability."

AMD posted a loss of $83 million in 2013 on revenue of $5.3 billion. In 2012, it lost $1.18 billion and generated revenue of $5.4 billion.

The company is under pressure from declining PC sales and strong competiton from rival Intel, according to analysts.

"Their main problem lately is the problem Intel has faced: The PC business overall is dwindling," Bob O'Donnell, founder and chief analyst at TECHnalysis Research. "We have reached a critical point where tech companies like this need to evolve or die, not that they're anywhere near death, but they need to change and adjust. Intel has suffered as much as AMD but Intel is a lot bigger and they were more aggressive earlier to branch out into other areas; now we see AMD doing it. AMD does have a good story with the gaming angle, but the question now is will enough people care?"

AMD has worked with Texas-based agency RAPP for the past three years. The challenge with this effort was to keep the message simple enough for a consumer to understand, according to RAPP CMO and Managing Director Tracey Brown.

"As an agency we partnered with marketing at AMD to pull out the distinctiveness of the product and talk about how they have owned the gaming space," said Ms. Brown. "Our 'recipe' was to be visual. Think about screens, they're usually square, so with marketing materials we leveraged the polygon in their brand logo and visually it's an angular look so everyone recognize the brand instantly. Second was around copy, so we said if AMD can power these games imagine what this can do for you."

Ms. Brown said the agency is looking toward a refresh of the campaign that will largely depend on new survey data.

Around the launch of the campaign, the company hosted intercept pages with a short survey. Current results show 49% of consumers who said they were not tech-savvy indicated they had a greater understanding of AMD APU technology and are more likely to buy a product with AMD technology. In addition, 63% of those who labeled themselves 'enthusiasts' said they were more likely to buy.

Ms. LaForce said AMD recently put the same survey back into the market and is awaiting results.

"This campaign is a catalyst for more things. It has legs into more of the commercial space, where we are diversifying more," said Ms. LaForce. "At one time over 90% of our business was from the PC, desktop, laptop and data center market. Today 20 to 30% of our business is in the 'high growth' market from gaming to embedded technologies. We know we need to make a strategic shift away from the legacy markets and we've made a commitment to make our business 50% in these high-growth areas."

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CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the campaign included TV.

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