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Hewlett-Packard Co. has moved into razor-blade-style marketing with the launch of a print and broadcast campaign, estimated at $6 million to $8 million, for printer supplies.

As the printer business that HP has dominated becomes more of a commodity market, manufacturers have begun to focus on the profitable aftermarket for supplies such as toners, cartridges, paper and accessories.


That's created a market similar to razors, where the profit lies not in the original razor but in replacements. While the cost of some printers is as low as $200 or so, some laser jet cartridges are priced at about $100 each.

"There are plenty of opportunities to sell blades," said Olof Hult, VP-account director at agency Winkler McManus, San Francisco.

But the printer aftermarket itself has become a fierce battlefield with the recent entry of competitors ranging from Lexmark International, a former IBM subsidiary, to small businesses that recycle empty cartridges.

The print campaign, the kickoff of a five-year effort, is set to run in consumer magazines as well as computer books and magazines targeting the retail trade.

Ads include a discreetly displayed Web address (http://www.

WMcM.com/rsvp) that will allow consumers to respond to the campaign.


At the same time, HP is testing in the Pacific Northwest its first broadcast effort for LaserJet supplies, and employs testimonials of animated letters "C," "Y" and "U," dubbed "three sharp characters," each showing off their enhanced characteristics, such as the vain diva "C" who praises HP toner for smoothing out rough edges. A national rollout of that campaign is being planned.

Sales of HP's LaserJet and InkJet lines are about equal. Although this campaign will focus only on LaserJet items, it eventually may include the InkJet models, which are more consumer-oriented.

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