Compaq $350 mil push on track for fall launch

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Compaq Computer Corp. executives remain on track to deliver an estimated $350 million global brand campaign before the end of the third quarter. The long-awaited effort from FCB Worldwide, New York, Compaq's latest agency of record, will attempt to craft an Internet-savvy image for the company.

Compaq had planned to break the campaign in late August, but the recent arrival of Doug Fox, the technology giant's new corporate marketing chief, delayed the schedule, according to people familiar with the situation. Mr. Fox, a former International Paper executive, in July was named senior-VP of marketing and strategy. All the concepts FCB and Compaq executives had developed needed to be reviewed by Mr. Fox.

"Anytime you've worked for two months and are about to deliver [a campaign], and someone comes in and says, `Let's talk,' it's challenging," said one insider close to the process. "There have been a number of cooks, and the fact that FCB was hired in May and it's [now] September and there's really nothing out . . . It's hard to get another cook coming in at the 11th hour," the insider added.

Gary Elliott, VP-worldwide integrated marketing communications for Compaq, said the company wants to break a campaign in the third quarter: "We are very much on track," he said.


Bill Fasig, VP-communications, added that since Mr. Fox's arrival, he has focused on strategy for all of Compaq. "It hasn't altered the fundamentals of the campaign or the timing," he said.

Mr. Elliott said the agency is factoring the actors' strike into its schedule.

At least three TV executions are currently in production and revolve around the theme of technology and empowerment; more than six print ads are planned. Compaq has ditched the enlarged red "Q" that appeared in advertising from DDB Worldwide, New York, its prior agency, and is mulling three possible taglines: "Inspirational technology," "Technology that inspires" and "Inspiration technology." Compaq executives want to create a point of view that resonates, "much like `Invent' does for [Hewlett-Packard Co.] . . . it defines what they're about . . . and the strategy is to position the brand in a more holistic way," the insider said.

Mr. Elliott declined to comment on the taglines and creative approach, as did other Compaq executives.


Compaq's challenge is to show the world what it stands for and how the company can deliver on its vision of empowerment through innovative, enabling technologies and relationships with customers. "They want to show how technology can inspire people to do more," the insider said. "[The campaign] won't be stodgy."

Creative is said to be driven by images of people in different work situations. The company is expected to focus on emerging segments such as information technology services, Internet appliances and wireless e-commerce solutions. "We want to talk about the depth and breadth of everything we have and are developing here -- products, services and solutions," Mr. Elliott said.

However, Compaq must tell the world that it is more than just boxes and still convey that its hardware can inspire people and help run a business. That's a tall order for a traditionally sales-oriented company that hasn't delivered particularly strong brand advertising in recent years.


Compaq has had a series of rocky agency relationships. Prior to FCB's appointment in early May, DDB ran the account for nearly two years in what can only be described as a tumultuous run. Ammirati Puris Lintas, New York, in pre- Lowe Lintas & Partners Worldwide days, handled the account for several years until June 1998.

"It's not the responsibility of the ad agency to figure out what you want to stand for and how you go to market. . . . [Compaq was] so fragmented and so all over the place, it didn't matter which agency was on it," the insider said.

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