Dell Warns Shoppers Away From Retailers

Dell has done away with its interns for this year’s holiday-season TV ads, aiming directly at its competitors with humorous spots that paint the retail-buying process as stressful and costly.

One of two commercials that broke last week via Omnicom Group’s DDB in Chicago features a 30-ish guy doing odd jobs like selling lemonade, mowing lawns and babysitting to save up for an MP3 player. “Don’t go there,” reads a caption. “Go Dell.”

The other spot shows potential buyers in a Computer Purchase Training Center boot camp. “I do not have to settle for what’s on the shelf!” one recruit shouts to a mannequin wearing a “Computer Salesman” T-shirt. “Your PC jargon has no effect on me!” yells another.

Two other spots also themed “Go Dell” are set to break next month. The tag remains, “Easy as Dell.”

The budget was not disclosed. Dell spent about $80 million on ads in November and December 2002, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR.

Dell shelved wiseacre spokesdude Steven last fall and replaced him with a group of interns brainstorming on how to make Dell’s offerings even better. Claire Bennett, director of marketing communications for Dell’s consumer group, said the campaign was planned for the first quarter, but Dell was so happy with it, the launch date was moved up.

The campaign comes as Dell, like competitors Hewlett-Packard and Gateway, goes beyond PCs to offer other electronics items such as MP3 players and plasma-screen TVs. “The company’s consumer business has been hot, and there’s no reason to doubt the future success,” said Brooks Gray, senior analyst at Technology Business Research, Hampton, N.H.