Inside Out: Intel Is Reinventing Itself With A Brand Overhaul

PennyBaldwinIntelIntel’s ambitious new brand strategy is no chip shot.

Primarily known since the 1990s as “the computer inside,” the microprocessor manufacturer aims to break out of the box with a campaign that “stops focusing on where we are and starts focusing on why we are,” said Penny Baldwin, VP and GM of global brand management and reputation at Intel Corporation.

“By putting the focus on Intel Inside, we’d gone brand invisible,” Baldwin said. “We were distanced from the consumer with no direct relationship, no visceral presence and no tangibility.”

It was time for a rebrand. In January, Intel launched an integrated marketing campaign centered on “amazing experiences outside” with millennials as the primary target. “We’re trying to bring our brand from the inside to the outside,” Baldwin said. “From being seen as a PC component to being an experiential exponent and an enabler of experiences.”

One such experience was Lady Gaga’s musical tribute to David Bowie at the Grammys Monday night. Her six-minute medley of Bowie hits, bookended by two Intel ads, used Intel-enabled technologies such as robotics, live video, wearables and 3-D motion graphics.

AdExchanger caught up with Baldwin to talk about Intel's media mix, and what success looks like for a 48-year-old Silicon Valley company.

AdExchanger: How does Intel go from being perceived as a microchip maker to a B2C brand?

PENNY BALDWIN: All the research we’ve done clearly indicates that we’re seen as nothing more than a PC processing company. But we’re expanding into data, we’re creating wearables and we’re developing technology for the Internet of Things. Those are the businesses that will become increasingly important for our revenue and profitability profile into the future.

The brand strategy behind everything we do now is around creating a direct connection between our technology and the experiences we enable. Hence Lady Gaga, hence our presence at the NBA All-Star [weekend] and our presence at the winter X Games.

Why the sports connection?

Our focus is on four core categories: sports, gaming, music and entertainment.

At the X Games, we appended Curie, our smallest microprocessor – it’s the size of a button – to snowboards so we could travel along for the ride with the snowboarder and capture real-time data on things like the height of a jump or the accuracy of a trick being performed. That adds another dimension to the viewing experience that people didn’t have access to before.

ladygagabowieHow are you approaching digital marketing?

The “Amazing” campaign starts with a strategic positioning initiative to assert that we make amazing experiences possible. At the moment, we’re using broadcast because of its reach and impact.

But given the brevity of that medium, we can only seed the promise and not expand on it. That’s where digital comes into play. We can provide a much deeper dive in digital and social applications where there is the real estate, the time and the engagement that warrants that level of storytelling.

What else is in the mix?

Broadcast, digital, social, search engine marketing, corporate communications and mobile marketing.

What are the campaign KPIs?

We’re trying to evolve perception. We want to be seen as a brand that is more innovative than others and we want to be seen as a leader in breakthrough technology. Those are macro metrics at a high level. And underneath that we always have very quantifiable goals in terms of the number of impressions, the number of views, time spent, the level of engagement, how many people were exposed to the message, how much time they spend on our website, etc.

How does Intel approach programmatic?

There is no singular approach to our buy. We are constantly fine-tuning and optimizing based on the metrics and behavior analysis that comes along with the ongoing process of optimization. It’s a mixture [of programmatic and direct deals].

The new brand platform is all about "outside," but Intel’s heritage is "inside." Will you be cutting down on the Intel Inside co-op marketing with your PC partners?

We will not abandon our partner marketing effort. The Intel Inside program is still an essential part of the marketing mix. As part of our broader initiative, Intel will continue to provide the corporate marketing dollars that are a part of the programs we run with the likes of Dell, HP and Lenovo so they can badge our products in-store.

The program is critically important, especially at the point of sale. We know the consumer does look for the Intel Inside badge and they are influenced by that.

How do you allocate your ad budget?

Partner marketing is about 25% of our overall budget. As far as broadcast and digital are concerned, the mix is constantly shifting and being optimized. It’s not cost effective to sustain aggressive broadcast spend on an ongoing basis, so digital, social and SEM are fundamental to our media buy and they remain "always on." Broadcast is slotted in when we have the need to achieve a breakthrough level of impact, such as when we introduce a new brand strategy.

Speaking of the new strategy, how do you respond to the negative press from those who thought Lady Gaga and Intel used the Grammys tribute to sell product?

Our role was to enhance the performance through creativity and the use of technology. We were purposely not heavy-handed in the performance itself in terms of any brand attribution and we tried to be respectful of both Lady Gaga and of David Bowie. The goal was simply to be relevant and improve on the art form through the mashup of amazing technology and creativity, and I think that’s what we accomplished.


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