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Four Elements of a Compelling Campaign

by Ann Handley  |  
July 19, 2006

Hewlett-Packard's new ad campaign successfully sails clear out of the ballpark, to use a seasonal metaphor. Here's why–

But first, some background: The HP campaign .... "The Computer is Personal Again," created by Goodby, Silverstein & Partners .... features spots of how well-known celebrities use their personal computers. There's a print and online banner ad component, as well, but neither is nearly as riveting as the 30-second spots featuring Dallas Mavericks owner (and blogger) Mark Cuban, Reality TV exec Mark Burnett, Olympic snowboarder Shaun White, music executive Jay-Z, and musician Pharrell Williams. It's the first-ever global marketing campaign for its Personal Systems Group, says iMedia Connection.
If you haven't seen it yet, here's Mark Cuban's spot:

So why did HP hit it out of the park? Because it has four winning components:
1. The ads are compelling.
David Armano called them "mesmerizing," AdFreak's Catharine Taylor likes 'em too, and HP VP of Global Marketing Eric Kintz risks looking like a PR flak by calling them "cool initiatives." Meanwhile, I actually gorged on them .... I scrolled through each spot and ingested them all in one sitting.
Granted, not everyone is over the top: Chris Thilk and Leigh Householder (a.k.a. Advergirl) were a little lukewarm. And even I had one complaint: Where are the women? Why didn't HP wonder what's in Arianna Huffington's PC? Or Shakira's?
Nevertheless, on balance, Eric's right: the ads are fun to watch and very cool.
2. As David points out, HP smartly is appealing to the social media network by premiering the ... lateset round of its commercials .... those starring Mark Burnett, Mark Cuban and Pharrell Williams .... online.
HP recognizes the power social media has, says HP's David Roman via a news release: "We are seeing great interest in the number of blog links and online buzz created by the first two ad spots."
He adds: "Online video sites and their prominence in the blog community are today's 'word-of-mouth,' providing a very personal avenue to help HP reach an audience that doesn't necessarily respond to traditional media, but who will watch an ad online if it's been recommended by a well-liked blogger or a friend."
David writes, "That last part about a 'well-liked blogger or a friend' is really critical. What the ad world is experiencing is a shift in where viewers are going, and in the online space–it's all about word of mouth."
3. The fun component.
HP encourages you to cast yourself in your own HP commercial. Here's my own (slightly freakish) attempt.

(As a side-note: I initially tried to make the video featuring the face of one of my dogs, but HP didn't recognize any of them as "human." Of course, that was probably a smart move on HP's part .... who knows what sort of creatures might be featured, otherwise? But it did dull some of the fun for me.)
4.Finally .... the ads work.
True story: Yesterday afternoon, I was driving my ultra-design-and-brand-conscious 14-year-old home when we got to talking about computers. Totally unprompted, he said, "I'd like to get a laptop or a notebook .... like the HP Pavilion." "You're kidding!" I said– then, "Why?" He looked at me sort of funny .... but then again, he often does .... and said, "Because I saw this really cool Shaun White ad."
I almost fell out of my bucket seat .... because I couldn't believe it .... he certainly doesn't read Adfreak or Logic+Emotion.
And so there you have it. A completely unprompted endorsement by a teenager. And trust me on this one: that's not an easy thing to get.
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Ann Handley is chief content officer of MarketingProfs, author of Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Ridiculously Good Content, and co-author of the best-selling book on content marketing, Content Rules. Ann co-founded, one of the first sources of interactive marketing news and commentary.

Twitter: @MarketingProfs and @AnnHandley.

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  • by Eric Kintz Wed Jul 19, 2006 via blog

    Great story Ann, I am happy that you and your son enjoyed the ads. I will be blogging in the next days about another really cool viral campaign that we are revealing this week. Stay tuned.... Eric

  • by Lewis Green Wed Jul 19, 2006 via blog

    HP hit it out of the ballpark! Thank you for bringing this to your readers. One question: Never having met you and having inferred that the face of your ad may or may not be you, who is the face or your ad?

  • by Ann Handley Wed Jul 19, 2006 via blog

    Eric -- Can't wait. Lewis -- LOL...oh no, that's me alright. It's not my bucket hat, though...just for the record!

  • by David Armano Thu Jul 20, 2006 via blog

    "I almost fell out of my bucket seat .... because I couldn't believe it .... he certainly doesn't read Adfreak or Logic+Emotion." Ann, you need to tell your son that ALL the COOL kids read Logic + Emotion and Adfreak. I mean, c'mon–doesn't he want to be "with it"? ;) Great post. And I really love the entire HP campaign. Good strategy, idea, and execution.

  • by Elie Ashery Thu Jul 20, 2006 via blog

    Ann, I must have been snoozing because I haven't seen or heard of whiff of this ad campaign. The only computer ad that has captured my attention is the one for Mac with the Bill Gates look alike. Those Mac ads are so compelling that I want to ditch all the PCs in my office. Elie Ashery Gold Lasso, LLC

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