Intel's New Branding Chooses Not To Sell

Intel plans to launch a new, 3-year branding campaign next Monday, and I think the inadvertent message is that there's no reason to buy a gizmo powered by one of its products. The inanity of the campaign belies some serious decision-making dysfunction.



Intel plans to launch a new, 3-year branding campaign next Monday, and I think the inadvertent message is that there's no reason to buy a gizmo powered by one of its products. The inanity of the campaign belies some serious decision-making dysfunction.The creative conceit contrasts common ideas of stardom with the geeky importance of the stars within Intel. So a print ad puts the line "Your rock stars" superimposed over a bevy of rockers (who look like the band Spinal Tap) next to a photo of two nudnick scientists labeled "Our rock stars." A TV spot has employees going berserk because the guy who invented USB walks by them.

Entitled "Sponsors of Tomorrow," the campaign will run in 30 countries by June, because, according to the VP of corporate marketing, "...we really needed to put some meaning into Intel, so 'Intel inside' means something again."

Meaning, eh? This thing means that the company couldn't come up with a reason why anybody should buy its products.

Intel and its agency wasted lots of time (and smarts) looking inward, analyzing the company's people and culture, and not outward, studying why consumers might value a device because of its Intel-ness. Because it's a component, and not the entire end-product, the marketers felt that they had to discover some unappreciated attribute, then associate it with the brand via lots of spending.

Will anybody care, or do anything because of it? No, it's branding, silly.

The real killer is that the company's original brief was to talk about Intel's role in everyday life. This was a functional-based idea that challenged the agencies to help realize how vital -- and, my guess, reliable, capable, valuable, and relevant -- its products were to people. It would have been a hard to make functions fun and engaging enough to influence consumer purchase decisions.

But it might also have helped sell stuff.

Instead, the agency discarded the approach because "it's just really trite," and came up with a campaign that could have been produced for Microsoft, Sun, or just about any other technology brand. Or bank. Or floor polish.

A new branding campaign that told us real, meaningful reasons why we should want to buy things with Intel inside of them could have been a really smart move.

"Sponsors of Tomorrow" tells us only that Intel can't market its way out of a paper bag.

Jonathan Salem Baskin writes the Dim Bulb blog and is the author of Branding Only Works On Cattle.

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