ABB Prepares a Return to Advertising

BOSTON After several years of red ink, struggling engineering firm ABB is seeking to introduce itself to executives with its first major ad effort in four years, an estimated $15 million campaign that brings the focus back to its core business: power and automation.

Breaking Wednesday, the work, by Stamford, Conn., independent Re:Think Group, features ABB employees discussing company projects under the theme, “Welcome to the world of ABB.” Three spots showcase locales ranging from a Moroccan market to a factory where robots place chocolates in boxes. In one ad, an employee says, “Today, we’re helping to bring electricity to a remote village in Tanzania. … It’s just another day at the office.”

Zurich, Switzerland-based ABB had losses of $767 million last year, although revenue was up about 3 percent to nearly $19 billion, according to Hoover’s Online. Its better-known competitors include GE (’03 revenue: $133 billion, per Hoover’s) and Siemens (’03 revenue: $87 billion).

“We have had a couple of very rough years that required us to refocus our business,” said Trina Foster, vp of corporate communications at ABB North America in Norwalk, Conn., explaining that “the timing was right” to launch a campaign.

Last year, ABB spent about $2 million on advertising, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR, including print ads by Re:Think that sought to reassure customers after the August blackout in the Northeast.

TV will run on news and business programs. Print is also in the mix.