He made the statement in response to the IntelliQuest agency survey (See survey results on A-3) finding that 72% of ad dollars promotes specific products while only 23% is aimed at boosting high tech companies' brand or image.
"The high tech companies, because they've been so innovative and new-product oriented, are always out there with what's new, so it becomes product advertising. But you've seen a tremendous shift in the last 18 months with major technology companies and value-added providers, like the telephone companies, move from product to brand or corporate image" advertising.
Mr. Anderson cited Digital Equipment Corp., which consolidated from more than 50 agencies to one lead creative shop- DDB Needham Worldwide, New York-as one example of the trend in which corporations are increasingly viewing themselves more as brands-a longer-term focus. ( Young & Rubicam, New York, still handles Digital's PC division.) "Certainly IBM in the last six to nine months has done a major transformation from product to a more brand orientation ....with brand assets that go around the world."
"Microsoft is trying to get there but isn't yet," Mr. Anderson said.
Greg Perlot, advertising director, said Microsoft's advertising through Anderson & Lembke Inc., San Francisco, focuses on both product and brand. What has changed in the past year is the international effort by Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore., with the theme line "Where do you want to go today?"
The international campaign "started as a broader job. The more people get to know us, the more we need to [explain] what that line means," Mr. Perlot said.
Microsoft last month rolled a global effort backing the long-awaited introduction of its upgraded operating system, Windows 95. And overall advertising will "try to present more and more of our products so people can get their head around them," Mr. Perlot said. "The line is broader than most people we're advertising to realize."
Tom Beermann, manager-corporate issues, said IBM Corp.'s focus on brand is part of the "union" with Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, New York, and one that's drawn widespread praise. Ads "convey the image that IBM is more accessible, that we're a little more fun to do business with, that we have a global reach .... and broad range of capabilities."
Mr. Beermann said "not only have we had the anecdotal feedback on the ad tracking, the more scientific measurement of advertising has shown it to be successful.... It's a little early to determine in terms of sales, but in terms of image perception and getting the right message across and moving the perceptions," the ads are working.
However, Chuck Jones of Jones-Lundin Associates, a Chicago agency/client consultancy, said it's "wishful thinking" that companies concentrate more on image and brand than product.
"It's the environment of publicly owned corporations to make the profit picture of the current quarter [the main focus]" that puts pressure on marketing departments to take a shorter-term focus instead of the longer view to emphasize brand or image.
Image is something Mr. Anderson said is "kind of flat" in Microsoft's efforts, despite it being rated the best campaign by agencies in the survey.
"It doesn't say anything to me," Mr. Anderson said. "How do I feel about Microsoft the brand? I don't have any feelings about it, and with the money they're putting behind it, I should feel different. There's too many dates in that brand."
"Brand is something intangible that evokes positive feelings from the target audience about you and your product and makes them want to consider being a user or purchaser," Mr. Anderson said.
Agencies in the survey tend to agree that too much attention is focused on product instead of brand.
As far as clients' markets, agencies cite product capabilities as the top brand position in current advertising, about triple the next three factors combined-innovation, quality of manufacturing, and support and service.
However, agencies say the most desirable brand position is that of a solutions provider.
"Product performance is what advertisers want to be doing and agencies believe it's solutions," said Brian Sharples, IntelliQuest president. "That's a huge difference between what they're doing and what they'd like to be doing."
"Hardware manufacturers are getting a lot smarter about the messages they're communicating," said Peter Zandan, IntelliQuest CEO.
"It seems like a pendulum, but it also depends on the amount of innovation in the industry. There's almost a life cycle to advertising," Mr. Zandan said.