IQ News: Sun Microsystems Heads for Left Field

Sun Microsystems, Palo Alto, Calif., will take its new brand awareness campaign, “We’re the dot in dot-com,” online, and has hired Left Field, San Francisco, to make it happen. The 2-year-old interactive agency, founded by three Anderson & Lembke alumni, won the assignment, worth an estimated $5 million in media billings, after beating a field of 10. Other finalists included Santa Clara, Calif.-based USWeb/CKS and Lot 21, San Francisco.
According to Sun group advertising manager Karen Becker, the company was looking for an online strategic resource rather than simply an agency to take existing creative and put it online. (The “dot-com” effort launched last November. ) “We felt we needed a partnership with an agency whose sole focus was the Web, one that was driving other A-level brands online,” she said.
The interactive campaign has three targets, Becker said, including top management such as CEOs and chief technology officers who approve major purchases, IT departments and developers and manufacturers who will be working with Sun’s Java technology. Left Field pitched a three-part campaign to appeal to each segment, based on research showing how each group tended to use the Web.
The interactive agency will work closely with Lowe & Partners/SMS, San Francisco, Sun’s agency of record for traditional media, to extend the broadcast and print campaign into new media. The Lowe/SMS campaign includes national cable, high-level business print and IT trade publications.
Kevin Burke, one of the agency’s managing partners, commented, “There will be some banner ads, but most important will be innovative ad units online–positions and sizes no one has done before.” Left Field has been working with Web publishers individually to develop these unique concepts. “Whether someone makes the [media] plan depends on their willingness to innovate with us,” he said.
Burke added that the new business is even more exciting in light of the pending merger between America Online, Dulles, Va., and Netscape Communications, Mountain View, Calif.; Sun is partnering with the new entity.
“They definitely want to be seen as the company that’s powering the Internet, the intranet or extranet,” he said. “Now, together with Netscape and AOL, that makes their solution broader and deeper. It’s very cool.”