JWT’s First Dell Spots Take Direct Approach

J. Walter Thompson’s first ads for Dell Computer position the client as a no-nonsense problem solver in the cluttered build-to-order PC category.
The $110 million inaugural global branding campaign breaks June 14, said Scott Helbing, Dell’s vice president of corporate brand strategy.
The first spot features a mouse that has a problem negotiating a maze for the cheese prize and turns to Dell for its solution, said Helbing. The tagline is, “Be direct Dell,” followed by the Web address, www.dell.com. The Round Rock, Texas-based company wants consumers to see the address as part of the tagline, Helbing said.
JWT initially pitched the line, “Take the direct approach. Dell. Fast. Forward.” to win the account in November over Young & Rubicam, New York, and Goldberg Moser O’Neill, San Francisco. GMO handles Dell’s U.S. products account, and its “What can we build for you today?” campaign is expected to continue.
After the review, Dell decided the line lacked clarity and failed to convey the uniqueness of Dell’s approach, and sent the agency back to the drawing board. The “Fast. Forward.” tag emphasized a general industry benefit, Helbing said. The replacement “focuses very clearly on the way we do business.” Dell prides itself on dealing directly with its customers, cutting out a retail middleman. Unlike chief rival Gateway, it does not outsource its production or distribution, and sees this as a point of distinction.
Gateway launched a new campaign from McCann-Erickson, New York, in April with the tagline, “Let’s talk about your Gateway.”
Dell’s spot and two or three others will be backed by eight print ads in national publications. Spending is expected to be around $70 million in the U.S. and $40 million abroad, Helbing said.
Dell spent about $45 million in 1997, per Competitive Media Reporting. The company is the leading direct marketer of PCs, trailed by Gateway and Micron.