Dell Computer Corp. recently discontinued its consumer-oriented campaign featuring the Steven character and his "Dude, you're gettin' a Dell" catchphrase, and some observers believe the reason is Dell thought the creative sent the wrong message to corporate customers, which generate more than 80% of the PC giant's revenue.
The differences-and similarities-in addressing the consumer and business segments, and how to integrate those ad efforts are challenges faced by big-ticket marketers ranging from tech companies to delivery services. Although a marketer may be pushing the same brand to both audiences, one size does not necessarily fit all as far as advertising.
Vance Overbey, executive director of advertising for Cingular Wireless, says: "How much can we get from overlap from our consumer ads that fit business use? How much to target business users? That is a constant conversation we're having here."
Targeting can be an issue both in creative and media strategy. At CNN, advertisers such as Mellon Financial Corp., with consumer and b-to-b audiences, have participated in cross-platform deals that have also involved sibling AOL Time Warner outlets like Fortune, Money and Time, says Larry Goodman, president of sales and marketing at the cable network.
campaign seen as liability
Dell's Steven campaign "became a liability with larger business clients," says Rob Enderle, research fellow at tech consultancy Giga Information Group, contending that the Steven ads positioned Dell as "consumer-y."
Steven "didn't enhance us with enterprise customers," says Scott Helbing, Dell's VP-global brand strategy, "but you can't say he hurt us with the enterprise [or business-to-business segment] either. We had [b-to-b] customers asking us for posters of Steven and asking us, `Can he come to our annual meeting?' "
Dell will break new b-to-b creative soon, Mr. Helbing says. It will likely feature Dell advocates who've appeared in past ads: the character Dave, who targets information technology managers, and Ellen, who speaks to small business customers. Omnicom Group's DDB Worldwide, Chicago, handles.
When BellSouth Corp. and SBC Communications launched Cingular in 2001, the decision was to target consumers but construct ads so that the benefits appealed to business people as well, Mr. Overbey says.
Among Cingular's first spots was one titled "Ha!" which ran during the NCAA basketball tournament and showed two fans, sitting at either end of the U.S. map, taunting each other via cell phone during a game. The message was that Cingular offered no roaming charges. "It connected with both the general consumer and business users," Mr. Overbey says.
Recently, Cingular has used print and TV ads aimed at a business audience, focusing on corporate e-mail and customer relationship management solutions. Omnicom's BBDO Worldwide, New York and Atlanta, handles.
Among other marketers facing the challenge of integrating ads to consumer and business audiences:
* Intel Corp. this fall launched the consumer portion of its new "Yes" campaign after kicking off the b-to-b version earlier this year. The b-to-b portion uses print ads to discuss "Moore's Law," a rule fostered by Intel founder Gordon Moore on the proliferation of computer chips; consumer spots use a Moby song. The campaign strives to unify the Intel brand among consumers and corporations as the uses of technology for business and personal use continue to blur.
"We recognize that clearly the decision-making process might be different, but when you get to that point [of making a decision], there's much more of a unified view of how we use computer products," says Ron Berger, CEO-chief creative officer at Havas Advertising's Euro RSCG MVBMS Partners, New York, which handles Intel.
* In online job recruitment, the two main rivals-Yahoo!'s HotJobs.com and TMP Worldwide's Monster-have borrowed from Intel's original approach to reach its hybrid audience. That strategy consisted of "Intel inside" co-op campaigns to target consumers and create demand for PC makers to use Intel chips.
"Corporate audiences pay attention to our spots and what we're saying to job seekers," says Gay Holmes-Condos, brand planning director and partner at Brand Architecture International, HotJobs' New York agency.
* TV spots for FedEx Corp. and United Parcel Service of America are so ubiquitous that most viewers likely see them as consumer-oriented companies, but both shippers draw significantly more than 80% of their revenue from businesses. Both use broadcast because it's an efficient way to reach nearly every business in America.
Overall, FedEx and UPS ads are aimed at business people, but they include messages also intended for consumers. FedEx, for instance, relies on humor to make its spots palatable for a wide audience. "Consumers have always been a byproduct on our TV advertising," says Brian Phillips, FedEx's VP-marketing. BBDO's New York office handles FedEx.
UPS, whose advertising is handled by Interpublic Group of Cos.' Martin Agency, Richmond, Va., has a bevy of target markets within "consumer" and "b-to-b."
To reach consumers, UPS combines ads with a more emotional or comic appeal, such as its "Drivers" spot in which UPS drivers interact with customers, or its Nascar "Race the Truck" spots, with an appropriate buy such as a prime-time broadcast or a Nascar race. "Nascar, that's pretty clearly UPS on the weekend," says Steve Holmes, PR manager at UPS.
UPS' targets are particularly fragmented in b-to-b, where it may use an IT book to reach chief information officers, a Forbes for CEOs and other top managers, and an NFL telecast to reach the broad swath of business people. It tends to take a more straightforward approach here, particularly in its "Brown" campaign touting supply chain solutions and other business-oriented products.