Intel goes 'macro' in new campaign

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Intel Corp., kingpin of the microprocessor world, wants to extend its might into the market for processors that run powerful servers in an estimated $80 million global ad campaign breaking today in The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.

The "Macroprocessing" campaign, created by Havas Advertising's Messner Vetere Berger McNamee Schmetterer Euro/RSCG, New York, will try to convince information-services professionals that Intel's high-performance server chips are ideal for supporting sprawling back-end operations.

Intel positions its high-end server processors, the Xeon and Itanium, as high-performance at a low price. In doing so, it takes aim at rival Sun Microsystems. Ironically, the industry giants seem to be trading places. As Intel seeks to grow the market for its powerful processors that run million-dollar servers, Sun, long criticized for its pricey Unix-based products, has of late made a run at the low-end server market. But Intel executives know Sun won't cede even a bit of the market without a fight.

The print, outdoor and online efforts represent the biggest marketing spending supporting the activities of Intel's business sector, according to Deborah Conrad, VP-business marketing and alliances group. The push builds on a campaign Intel fired off about six months ago when it began aggressively advertising its entry into the server space.

The campaign plays off Intel's microprocessing brand fame in creative executions that compare the benefits of microprocessing power to macroprocessing, a la turbo-charged server chips. "The whole notion of macroprocessing is to generate awareness that the chip that's inside the server is as important as the chip that Intel makes inside the desktop," said Marty Susz, a partner at Messner Vetere.

Ads will run in major business and information-technology publications, as well as the Journal and the Times, on Web sites such as ZDNet and in select outdoor locations.

The ads take a new approach for Intel, presenting an example of microprocessing on the left, such as a small wrist TV, with a Sony Jumbotron on the right illustrating the macroprocessing concept.

One analyst has taken a jaundiced view of the effort. Rob Enderle, research fellow with Giga Information Group, said via e-mail: "Intel is trying to create an `Intel Inside' message that will work with servers primarily because they didn't properly position for AMD's [Advanced Micro Devices] entry into the market or anticipate the Itanium delays. They are hurting and depending more and more on marketing to cover other mistakes."

The delay of its high-end Itanium server chip is well documented, as are inventory backlogs and sharp price cuts on the Pentium 4 chip. Intel's balance sheet, like that of most every tech company, has been affected by the economic slowdown. In fact, in a report last week, Eric Ross, a Thomas Weisel Partners analyst, said he expects Intel to miss estimates for the second quarter. He pared earnings estimates from 12 cents per share to 8 cents and fiscal-year estimates from 55 cents per share to 45 cents.

Despite the down cycle, Intel in the last year has been on a tear, buying start-ups Cognet, nSerial Corp., LightLogic and VxTel, which have core competencies it needs to grow into new businesses. Intel is looking for share of voice, Ms. Conrad said, in four sectors: network communications; personal Internet communications/wireless; the Itanium family of server processors; and the ubiquitous Pentium processor.

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