3Com global ad campaign seeks to build credibility

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3Com Corp. breaks an estimated $100 million global campaign on April 21, the culmination of a yearlong effort to define the brand and strategy for the network-products marketer.

The campaign, with the theme "More connected," will begin with a spread in The Wall Street Journal, with ads following this week in papers in Asia and Europe.

The heart of the campaign starts in May with ads in business magazines and newsweeklies and some tech publications.

A TV campaign begins this fall in Asia, Europe and the U.S.


3Com is expected to spend about $20 million this year on corporate brand ads to reach senior management and high-level information technology managers, the first time 3Com has moved beyond its traditional business target of network managers and product specifiers--and the first time 3Com has pushed its name on TV.

"If we're trying to build credibility and nobody's ever heard of us except for seeing our name on [the San Francisco Giants' 3Com Park], we've got to connect with people," said Jerry Johnston, VP-corporate marketing.

The company will spend an estimated $80 million on product ads, to pitch modems and Palm III devices to consumers and networking wares to business and institutional tech buyers.

The integrated marketing campaign is the first since 3Com consolidated its account at Foote, Cone & Belding, San Francisco, in October.


As part of the campaign, 3Com is nearly tripling Web spending, to about $10 million to $12 million; sister True North Communications shop Modem Media, New York and San Francisco, is handling Web ads.

The product and brand budget is a bit above the $90 million 3Com spent globally on product advertising last year.

The campaign caps a year in which 3Com acquired modem giant U.S. Robotics; streamlined a confusing array of product names; and developed new corporate positioning.

3Com joins rivals Bay Networks and Cabletron Systems in starting brand campaigns. The kingpin of networking, Cisco Systems, also recently launched a new tagline, "Empowering the Internet generation," via Goldberg Moser O'Neill, San Francisco.

3Com's point of difference is its breadth of products, ranging from inexpensive consumer modems to routers and related wares used by Internet and phone companies.


"We are perceived as a parts company rather than a systems or solutions company," Mr. Johnston said. "That is one of the fundamental shifts that we are going to be addressing. . . . In order to do that, we've got to go up the food chain" by putting 3Com's message in front of corporate executives.

Print ads will focus on an individual, using a series of connected headlines in "lozenges"--a sort of bubble popular on the Internet--eventually tying into 3Com's solution. For example, one brand ad shows a boardroom where the CEO announces, to the dismay of his chief information officer, a mandate to get voice and video capabilities hooked up to all the company's computers in 30 days. The message: A company's computers are only as good as its network.

Copyright April 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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