Dell's $20 mil push stresses its e-volution

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Dell Computer Corp. this week unfurls an initial $15 million to $20 million campaign to position itself as a true Internet company and extend its equity as a direct-to-customer pioneer.

The two- to three-month TV, print and online effort via BBDO Worldwide, New York, breaks March 16 during NCAA basketball broadcasts on CBS, and is part of an estimated $40 million to $50 million yearlong budget devoted to corporate branding in North America.

So far, Dell's corporate brand efforts have painted the company as a leader in direct sales and stellar partner for customers looking to run their businesses more efficiently. Michael Dell, the company's 35-year-old wunderkind chairman-CEO, even appeared in ads touting the company's core equities (AA, Aug. 30). Dell's new push will illustrate how the company understands customers' needs and creates customized Web-based solutions and services.


"We will talk about Dell as a true Internet company, a business that increasingly runs itself on the Internet -- not just online sales and service, but materials procurement, employee recruitment and benefits," said a spokesman.

The campaign employs a new tagline: "Dell. It's how `e' works." The Dell logo's slanted "e" figures prominently in the creative. In fact, the spokesman called it "the star of the campaign" and TV ads will feature the icon in abstract computer animations. Ads will be based around the "e" and talk about capabilities in e-commerce and Dell's products that can handle "extraordinary e-commerce requirements," the spokesman said.

A print campaign breaking the week of March 20 will feature headlines such as "E-Business is R-Business," while another says, "You know what they say about being an E-business. It takes one to know one." The ads will run in The Wall Street Journal and USA Today and break the following week in magazines including Business Week and Fortune.


Dell's new tagline is complemented by a new logo crystallizing Dell's Internet drive, expressed as DellECom. The "e"s are canted, and the second "e" is surrounded by a shaded circle. Dell will continue using "Be direct," its current tag, which remains a cornerstone of its brand positioning.

The company is expected to disclose details of its new Internet solutions and services initiative early next month to analysts.

The latest effort won't be a stretch for the computer giant. As of January 28, the end of its fiscal fourth quarter, the company averaged $40 million in sales per day through That staggering tally accounted for nearly 50% of total revenue.

The company will join an e-advertising party already in progress. IBM Corp., Cisco Systems, Compaq Computer Corp., Gateway and Intel Corp. have all sought to refashion themselves as fast Internet companies.

Dell nabbed the No. 1 global market share of portable and desktop PC shipments to medium and large businesses in the fourth quarter of 1999, according to tech researcher International Data Corp.


Industry analysts and insiders said the bid to position Dell as an Internet infrastructure business will enable the company to powerfully tout its e-commerce solutions platform, including a recent move into Web-hosting. Taken together, the initiatives will illustrate a comprehensive offering designed to augment hardware sales.

"Service gives Dell more reasons to be in front of accounts and it enhances margins," said Van Baker, Dataquest analyst. "The caveat is that Dell isn't known as a services business, it's known as a hardware provider, so it's not a trivial undertaking," Mr. Baker said, adding, "They'll have to spend major-league dollars to do it."

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