Outdoor-heavy e-business ads aim to win over top influencers

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Compaq Computer Corp. will spend $60 million this quarter to ingrain an image as a non-stop, turn-on-a-dime supplier of e-business services.

The print, radio, outdoor and online effort from DDB Worldwide, New York, kicked off last week in The Wall Street Journal, introducing a new theme "24x7x Compaq." No formal tagline exists yet, said VP-Corporate Communications Dave Middleton, although "Compaq non-stop" appears in the lower right corner of ads.


The long-awaited follow-up to last year's "Q" campaign comes after months of turmoil and reorganization at Compaq, and seeks to paint the marketer as a leading provider of e-business solutions in a field already swarming with tech companies touting similar messages.

Targeting top tech influencers, the campaign has a fast, edgy look and feel, and delivers irreverent messages. Print executions feature headlines and copy in bold red type emblazoned on wild postinglike stickers. The headline for one ad reads: "Blah, blah, yak, yak, yada, yada, yada. Compaq keeps the world's top 35 telcos talking."

Copy describes how telcos depend on Compaq non-stop e-business solutions for a system that won't let customers down, providing constant reliability and scalability, and drives users to their Web site.

"We're all about making the customer unstoppable, in terms of how they deploy and how they use computing," Mr. Middleton said.

Additional ads will focus on customer problems and Compaq's solutions. Compaq customers such as Corbis, an image supplier, and Drugstore.com are featured in the ads.


Compaq will rely heavily on outdoor media, including bus and taxi wraps, wild postings, and even a flying billboard that it plans to deploy by helicopter to hover, for starters, over Wall Street.

"Outdoor represents an opportunity to deliver fairly localized messages," said Giovanna Imperia, director-brand strategy and advertising.

Ms. Imperia also said Compaq is taking a broad-based approach to media, trying to reach customers both at work and at play in business-influencer publications and in publications like Golf Digest and Sports Illustrated.

"The leave-behind message is, if it's not Compaq, it's not non-stop," said Mr. Middleton.

He noted that Compaq customers, from banks to stock exchanges, already rely upon the company's e-business solutions to run important functions, suggesting that TV executions planned for next year would take advantage of the fast-paced positioning to showcase the urgent tech needs of particular customers. For example, the dynamics inherent on the trading room floor.


Compaq likely will incorporate Sting into ads next year; the company is a sponsor of the musician's latest tour kicking off Oct. 14.

"Sting does an excellent job in articulating the personality we want to convey about Compaq. He's a demonstration of what it means to be unstoppable with Compaq," Mr. Middleton added.

About 40% of Compaq's fourth-quarter budget is for North America, with the rest deployed in several other global markets. The campaign unfurls in even more regions next year.

Compaq is dropping the "Better answers" tag that DDB used to win the estimated $300 million global account in June 1998.

Copyright October 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

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