Intel Launches Global Campaign

NEW YORK Intel is bringing back the processor.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company this week launched an integrated global campaign from Interpublic Group’s McCann Erickson that focuses on the tiny chip that essentially controls what the computer does for the first time since 2004.

This marks a change for Intel, which in recent years had played up the general experience of what the microprocessor does as opposed to the specifics. While the company did have ads last year that focused on the processor, the work was directed at a tech-savvy audience. This campaign is aimed squarely at the mainstream consumer.

“When you look back 10 years or so, everyone knew about the 386 and the 486 [two well-known processors from Intel]. As the market has matured, our focus as a company has been talking about experience,” said Nancy Bhagat, director, integrated marketing, Intel. “We stopped talking about processors and processor technology. We wanted to get back to basics. The whole campaign is focused on processors.”

In “Heigh Ho,” one of the eight spots, individual chips on clear white circular coasters trundle along an assembly line while the song “Heigh Ho, Heigh Ho,” best remembered from the Disney classic Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, merrily plays. Robotic arms are then seen plucking the chips from the conveyor belt and placing them inside waiting computers. “Put an amazing processor to work inside your notebook” is the on-screen copy.

“We wanted to instill personality to make Intel more human and more emotional,” said Bhagat. “We wanted to highlight the chip in a way that made it approachable. It’s not a sterile dark factory. People are having fun and the processors are excited about the future.”

The change in strategy stemmed from Intel’s research showing people didn’t quite grasp what, exactly, an Intel chip did. “Last year we developed a campaign [also from McCann] that positioned the Intel brand as a catalyst for experiences,” said Bhagat. “Research showed people didn’t understand how Intel was driving these experiences. A lightbulb went off saying we need to talk about the processor again.”

To that end future spots will focus on features such as the processor’s role in extending a machine’s battery life.

In the U.S. the ads will appear on channels such as ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN Headline News and the History Channel.

On the interactive side, banner ads will feature a robotic arm that comes out of the banner and appears to toss the user’s cursor into the ad.

The online campaign will incorporate rich media and interactive CGI banners because Intel found that click-through rates increased 30 percent with the more advanced work compared to traditional banner ads.

Print shows a robotic arm with a chip grasped between its digits, seemingly prepared to install it into a computer.

While Intel declined to specify how much it was spending on the campaign, the company did say it was in line with what it spent in the previous year. Last year Intel spent $56 million on television, print and outdoor, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus, up from $51 million in 2005.

“Computers are so prevalent now, and you’re bombarded with ads for operating systems, Web sites and applications,” said Tom Bagot, ecd, McCann. “Even hardware has to invest heavily to keep awareness out there.”