Published on .

March 8, 2001

By Tobi Elkin

Chances are pretty good you haven't heard of Susie Wee, Rycharde Hawkes and Rich DeMillo. But on March 11, these Hewlett-Packard Co. inventors become

Ross Allen is working on imaging processing chips that can work like the human eye.
stars in new TV spots marking the latest phase of the tech giant's ongoing global brand campaign.

The three new TV spots, among several others planned, help put a human face on HP and bring the company's "invent" mantra to life.

The campaign, created by Omnicom Group's Goodby Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco, breaks on Sunday night on the Discovery Channel. HP hopes its real-life inventors, who work in HP Labs around the world, will help the company raise its brand profile. TV and print creative feature HP innovations in three intersecting areas -- Internet infrastructure, e-services and wireless Web-enabled appliances.

"A good deal of the public still thinks of HP as a printer company," said Maia Ozguc, director, global brand advertising. "The things people are working on in HP Labs ... show the breadth of technology areas that HP is interested in and excited about, and bringing to life to people in their business and personal lives."

A lighthearted touch
To be sure, the lighthearted spots depict the passion of HP's inventors. To illustrate Susie Wee's work with streaming media, a spot shows two guys hiking an icy

Rycharde Hawkes invented a way to track city buses with a mobile phone.
mountain. Fearing they'll miss the latest soap opera plot twist, they take out a portable flat-screen tablet to access the soap via streaming media. Ms. Wee narrates and appears in the humorous ad.

In another spot, Rycharde Hawkes, a U.K.-based HP Labs inventor, rides a tram in Helsinki to show how HP is developing e-services via Nokia mobile phones that deliver transportation schedules to cut down on time spent waiting in the cold. Mr. Hawkes provides the voice-over: "It's very, very cold in Helsinki." No doubt. As Mr. Hawkes glides by, checking his mobile phone, kids come streaming from their homes throwing snowballs at the passing tram because they missed it.

Rich DeMillo, a leading scientist who chairs the company's Technology Council, is likened to a celebrity chef in a voice-over that says, "It's not about being famous, it's about being an inventor." A red double-decker bus crosses the Thames emblazoned with Mr. DeMillo's face. A wry title card at the end of the spot reads: "In case you spot him on the street."

Like 'rock stars'
"They [inventors] are our rock stars," Ms. Ozguc said. "They telegraphically tell people very succinctly that HP is the home of invention."

HP kicked off the first phase of its $200 million global brand campaign in December 1999. The campaign's theme brought HP back to its roots in invention, linking founders' Dave Hewlett and Dave Packard's passion to invent great things to the company's future. "We are, and we always will be, a company of inventors," Ms. Ozguc explained.

She said the campaign will run "as long as it needs to" and is due to hit Western Europe on March 23. Other regions are planned for later this year.

HP is choosing its media targets wisely. It's poised to spend close to half of its $200 million budget on this wave of advertising. TV spots will run heavily on networks in prime time, on cable news and sports programming, and on premiere events such as ABC's Academy Awards broadcast on March 25. HP bought two spots during the awards show. The spots, will run concurrently with print ads appearing globally via Time magazine's "Innovator Series."

In Europe, HP adds special-event style advertising at major train stations and life-size outdoor transit ads to the mix.

Copyright March 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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