Intel 'Yes' campaign targets b-to-b execs

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Last month, Intel Corp., an aggressive trailblazer in technology marketing, launched the largest strictly b-to-b advertising campaign in its history.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based technology company has used its innovative "Intel Inside" campaign to secure market dominance of its semiconductors in consumer PCs.

Now Intel is focusing on the b-to-b market. On June 4, it launched its multimillion-dollar "Yes" campaign, created by Euro RSCG MVBMS, New York, designed to promote sales of microprocessors for servers and other devices used by businesses.

"One of their credos is strong marketing campaigns," Gartner Group analyst Mary Olsson said. "They keep their name in everyone’s face. All of their competitors ride Intel’s coattails."

Intel says ‘Yes’

Jane Price, Intel’s director of business marketing, said, "‘Yes’ is the creative platform we’re using to communicate the Intel value proposition to technology decision-makers in business—everyone from business executives in the C-suite to IT management and the IT department."

Currently, the campaign is running in newspapers such as The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal and magazines such as the New Yorker.

Visuals in the print ads show microscopic views of microprocessors, with accompanying headlines such as, "Can a company that doesn’t make computers change the course of computing history?" The implied answer is "Yes."

The campaign is designed to spur sales in a slow market. After years of growth, technology spending has leveled off, according to recent surveys by Gartner and Goldman Sachs Group Inc., and International Data Corp. Nonetheless, top management—the key target of the initial salvo in this campaign—continues to have a large say in technology budgets.

"If you look at the scrutiny on decisions C-level people are making, every decision is looked at under a microscope," said Ron Berger, CEO of Euro RSCG MVBMS. "The reliability of a company like Intel is something that you have to believe can be looked at as an asset."

The central message of the campaign is to drive home Intel’s heritage of innovation and its longevity in an industry where many players are flirting with bankruptcy or are already out of business.

This is exactly the message that enterprise users want to hear, said Giga Information Group fellow Rob Enderle. Enterprise users want reliability and stability; they want their computing platforms to operate efficiently without glitches, he said. "[Intel’s campaign] is well thought-out, and the messaging is tight," Enderle said.

But he argues that there is a fundamental problem with the campaign: Innovation, stability and reliability don’t always go hand-in-hand.

Some enterprise users are telling him that continuing innovation in microprocessors is actually compromising reliability and stability. The new chip architecture may pose problems when operating with older systems, Enderle said.

"Intel is using marketing to fix a structural problem with the product," Enderle said. "You should fix the problem with the product’s structure, then you can market that solution. Doing this is like Ford marketing ‘Quality is Job 1’ without first fixing their quality problem."

Intel argues that its innovation enhances reliability and stability.

Gartner’s Olsson said, "More often than not today, most of the end user’s problems are based on software, not chips."

Intel plans to run the campaign in coming months, and it’s already using it as a platform to reach IT departments with several new product launches, including the Itanium 2 processor, new versions of the Pentium 4 for business desktop and mobile PCs, and Xeon products for servers.

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