Deborah Conrad

Published on .

Title: VP-CMO
Company: Intel Corp.
Years in current job: Has led corporate marketing group for 2 years; added CMO title in May
Quote: “We have to be really crisp and really simple with our communications. We're a company full of engineers who like to talk about how things work, and that can get really complex. Keeping it simple is actually really hard.”

Deborah Conrad's three-pronged mission for Intel marketing sounds straightforward enough: Make sure people have an emotional attachment to the chipmaker's brand; put its Core family of processors front and center; and help people through the computer-buying process.

But the company targets multiple audiences—computer manufacturers that build Intel processors into their products; the channel of retailers and resellers that put those computers on their shelves; and end-users, from IT decision-makers to young-adult consumers—and determining when and how to reach those different groups isn't easy.

To keep things as uncomplicated as possible, Intel two years ago began to “double down” on the master brand, Conrad said. “People know Intel, but we had sort of lost the connection of what it means to have Intel inside,” she said.

At the same time, the company wanted to make one family of processors the “hero” of its brands. “We had 14 brands that you might choose from,” she said. “It was incredibly confusing.”

Intel also decided to renew its commitment to helping buyers through the confusing journey of purchasing a computer. “That's been a cornerstone of our brand promise for 20 years now,” she said. “So we decided to double down on that, too.”

The company has spent the past two years busily executing marketing initiatives to achieve those goals. In May 2009, it rolled out the “Sponsors of Tomorrow” branding campaign, created by agency Venables Bell & Partners, San Francisco, to communicate what Intel is and what it does for all its audiences in a very human, fun—even quirky—way, Conrad said. In January, it introduced and aggressively promoted the current generation of the Core processor family. In May, it partnered with Vice magazine to launch The Creator's Project, a website and events series targeting 18-to-26-year-olds.

For all current marketing efforts, Conrad is focused on balancing traditional and digital media, and determining innovative ways to use both. For example, Intel is syndicating its website content so it appears on computer manufacturer, retailer and reseller websites. Intel has also committed itself to social media, training 5,000 sales and marketing people on the topic and implementing guidelines to help employees represent the company in the digital media space.

Conrad faces an interesting challenge as Intel expands its brand beyond the personal computer. In May, the company announced it would partner with Google and Sony to create Internet-enabled TVs using the recently introduced Atom processor. The chip also will be built into other products, such as smartphones and cars. “Repositioning who you are in the mind of a consumer is a very delicate task,” Conrad said. “We want to be able to bring all the trust and great equity we have in the computing space into these new areas, but not diminish what we have in the PC space either.”

The Intel brand has a solid base to build on—it moved from No. 9 in last year's Interbrand rankings to No. 7 this year.


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