POWER 10: Nick Earle

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Company: Hewlett-Packard Co., Palo Alto, Calif.
Title: Chief Marketing Officer, Enterprise Computing Solutions Organization
Age: 41
Years at company: 17
Years in b-to-b marketing: 8

Marketing philosophy: "I don't [care] if no one's done this before, we're getting aggressive."

When people think of Hewlett-Packard, they think printers. Nick Earle wants them to also think of the Internet.

Mr. Earle points out that H-P's enterprise computing solutions organization was a $15 billion player in fiscal 1998 in Unix-based servers and other hardware and software that can be used for Internet applications.

"Hewlett-Packard was just not known for the Internet," he says. "We weren't getting the credit for our contribution. It's our engineers' mentality: Let the products speak for themselves."

The engineers' way had long been the H-P way. Mr. Earle hopes the enterprise computing solutions organization can adopt a new business strategy, something he calls "the H-P Way 2.0."

"The vehicle for the new business strategy is aggressive marketing," he says. "We've still got great products. We've still got great technology. But this time we add aggressive marketing."

Mr. Earle revealed his relish for guerrilla marketing last year when Houston-based Compaq Computer Corp., which sells direct, acquired Digital Equipment Corp., which sold through resellers. Attempting to woo Digital's resellers, H-P ran ads that used Digital's familiar logo to spell out "Worried?"

"We got a cease-and-desist order," Mr. Earle recalls with a laugh. "But, boy, did we get a lot of publicity."

At the time, he defended the campaign internally with these words: "I don't [care] if no one's done this before. We're getting aggressive."

Lewis Platt, H-P chairman, president and CEO, and Ann Livermore, head of the enterprise computing solutions organization, are giving Mr. Earle the opportunity to get really aggressive. He has been allocated $150 million -- five times his fiscal 1998 marcom budget -- for a new branding campaign. The "E-services" campaign positions H-P as an Internet leader.

The first wave, which began in early March, features ads running in business publications such as The Wall Street Journal. The next wave will include TV spots. The campaign, $100 million of which will be allocated to media, will include $30 million split equally between trade publications and the Web.

At stake in the campaign is H-P's image as a key player in the Internet's evolution. Looking further into the future, Mr. Earle implies that H-P's overall marketing efforts, which include alliances with other computer industry giants such as Intel Corp., may even figure into the company's ultimate survival.

He says that one day the computer industry, like the U.S. auto industry, may have only three major players. With a push from some aggressive marketing, Mr. Earle counts on H-P being included in that triumvirate.

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