POWER 10: Andrew Salzman

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Company: Compaq Computer Corp., Houston
Title: VP-Worldwide Advertising & Brand Strategy
Age: 43
Years at company: 1.5
Years in b-to-b marketing: 1.5

Marketing philosophy: "Great marketing starts with the customer, and must appeal to the head and to the heart. You need a consistent and unifying rational message that draws on your core competencies, that is relevant and differentiating, and that sets you apart as a leader."

Andrew Salzman assumed his position as Compaq Computer Corp.'s VP-worldwide advertising and brand strategy at a critical time. Only nine months into his tenure, the Houston-based company acquired Digital Equipment Corp., and then added Tandem, thrusting Compaq directly into the hotly competitive enterprise computing sector.

"The Digital acquisition was such a strong complement to what we were already doing, and certainly the acquisition of Tandem brought us superior standards-computing capabilities across the enterprise audience," he says.

What was needed, Mr. Salzman says, was a globally unified campaign that would begin with the core strengths of Compaq as a market leader in standards-based computing and practical innovations, and add the strengths of Digital and Tandem in business products and services.

"Combining all of these strengths to create the new leader in enterprise computing solutions required a common identity," he says.

That identity was expressed in the Compaq Q, a distinctive letter that symbolizes the company's bond with its customers. Compaq's agency, DDB Needham Worldwide, New York, "captured our brand spirit by addressing the needs and concerns of our customers in computing and in life without jargon and hyperbole, posing questions that customers would ask, in their own words, vs. selling at them," Mr. Salzman says.

The "We provide better answers" campaign, running in more than 30 markets worldwide, broke last June, coinciding with the announcement of the Digital Equipment acquisition. Although competitors such as Hewlett-Packard Co. took aim with ads that hoped to play up customer confusion over the merger, Compaq immediately began to establish its identity and credibility in enterprise computing.

The $300 million-plus campaign, which ranks Compaq as the No. 2 spender, behind IBM Corp., features a globally aligned strategy, look and feel.

In the U.S., the company used a combination of general-audience network and cable TV; television targeted at business and IT customers; prestige newspapers; IT press; out-of-home; and Web advertising. The primary emphasis is on prestige and targeted print, Mr. Salzman says.

Maintaining cutting-edge technology and credibility with customers is key, says Mr. Salzman, who brings to Compaq what he calls a "classic consumer-products marketing" background.

"Our first priority is to realign perceptions with the reality of Compaq today -- as a leader in business and mission-critical computing, and as a company that listens and understands the needs, challenges and frustrations in finding a true and trusted partner."

In its campaign, Compaq tries to place itself in its customers' shoes, recognizing questions and supplying answers that help reduce the complexity of Internet-based computing.

"We, Compaq, grew up in the age of PCs and the Internet, and we feel we bring a youthful, smart, gutsy effort to all the computer challenges we face," Mr. Salzman says. "We work in a tremendously dynamic industry, and what we are bringing to our marketing efforts is the same energy and enthusiam, the same dynamic spirit that can set us apart from our competitors.

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