3Com campaign aims to connect in a simple way

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Its newly spun-off Palm subsidiary is getting all the attention, but 3Com Corp. isn't fazed. The $10 billion networking company is plotting a global brand campaign designed to make it synonymous with simple and universal connectivity.

3Com executives hope the new brand proposition, crafted with agency partner Lowe Lintas & Partners Worldwide, New York, will help the company build on leadership in the local area network telephony market and catapult it into the fast-growing wireless and broadband Internet segments.

In order to achieve presence, the company expects to double advertising spending to an estimated $100 million when the campaign launches in North America this summer. Network and cable TV advertising, as well as print in business and trade publications and newspapers is planned, along with a substantial e-marketing effort.


"Our goal is to simplify the complexity of networks, and to simplify how people connect so they can accomplish more," said Jan Soderstrom, 3Com senior VP-worldwide marketing.

The brand push comes as 3Com has spent the last several months retooling its business to focus on networking solutions for the home, small- and medium-size businesses and network service providers, leaving industry heavyweights Cisco Systems, Lucent Technologies and Nortel Networks to battle each other in the enterprise space.

3Com's image makeover also includes a new logo by Interbrand, San Francisco, that will be integrated into ad and marketing efforts. The contemporized logo replaces the company's blue box design with fluid, gray rings symbolizing universal, three-dimensional connections and constant change.

Early signs of 3Com's campaign strategy broke in ads in The Wall Street Journal and other leading newspapers in the U.S. and Europe last week. Two executions, via Lowe, were described as "interim" by a 3Com spokeswoman, but hint at the creative direction and theme of simple connections. They run through July.


In one ad touting broadband modems for home and small business use, there is a tight shot of a woman's eyelid with the line: "The best way to pass time during a 2.3 MB download: a. nap, b. take up new hobby, c. watch movie and d. blink." Copy reads: "Get more information faster than you can digest it. After all, it's the simple connections that let you do the most fantastic things." Readers are invited to visit 3Com.com.

The creative approach is intimate and strives to create an emotional bond with the target audience. It also exemplifies 3Com's brand attributes: approachable and humanistic.

"We are all about simple ways to connect with information and one another," Ms. Soderstrom said. "We're creating a whole new image, it's appropriate for a company that's poised for great opportunities."


The other ad showcasing 3Com's wireless network capabilities features an office set in a warehouselike environment and the same multiple-choice style. The office has no computer or wires. Headline: "Maximum distance of desk from LAN jack: a. 8 ft., b. 10 ft., c. 12 ft. and d.What LAN jack?" Copy reads: "Cut the wires and extend your radius. After all, it's the simple connections that let you do the most fantastic things."

3Com also has embarked on a search for an interactive agency to help implement an e-marketing program, as well as incentive and loyalty programs. Ms. Soderstrom declined to specify contenders.

While analysts overall are bullish on 3Com's spinoff of Palm, they are less certain about the company's plans to refocus its core business. At least one analyst said that 3Com has laid out a lot of broad repositioning plans, but it's too early to tell how well they will be executed. 3Com is in the process of exiting low-growth categories, such as networking hardware and PC cards.

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