HP on why it’s using Christian Slater in a new anti-hacking campaign

Marketing Week caught up with HP Inc’s global MD ahead of its latest campaign, which takes a theatrical approach to tackle hackers.

There have been a lot of changes to Hewlett-Packard (HP) over the last 15 months, especially following the split of the business into Hewlett Packard Enterprise and HP Inc. The latter now focuses more on the firm’s arguably better-performing computer and printer business.

In light of the company’s structural changes, HP Inc is heading in a new direction with its latest ad campaign, which takes a more theatrical approach and features Hollywood actor Christian Slater.

The B2B campaign – titled ‘The Wolf’ – features Slater as a ‘wolf’ or hacker who is trying to steal data through company’s printers. It aims to show the various ways hackers can steal people’s data and is part of HP’s goal to raise awareness of cyber attacks through business printers. Slater is good casting having starred in Amazon’s Mr. Robot, a TV drama that follows a prolific hacker.

“There is so much noise in the system right now that we needed something to grab attention. Historically B2B marketing doesn’t really grab your attention so we wanted to do something that really gets people to understand what is going on [with hacking],” Vikrant Batra, global head of marketing at HP, tells Marketing Week.

It’s not that the PC category is dying, it is being reinvented.

Vikrant Batra, HP

The fact Slater doesn’t appear to be an obvious antagonist plays into HP’s case that anyone can hack or be hacked, and that many people don’t realise the amount of data stored in printers.

“He’s not an evil character, he doesn’t only have bad intentions. He’s trying to point out these blind spots in corporations,” Batra explains.

The campaign will be pushed out through channels such as digital programmatic, social media and Spiceworks, a community for IT specialists. It will launch in 20 countries worldwide and be micro-targeted depending on the platform. The Slater-starring campaign, which will develop over the year to focus on different types of hacking, will be targeted at IT decision makers and chief information and security officers within a corporation.

Using in-house metrics and ‘the death’ of the PC

Hacking isn’t the only digital challenge on HP Inc’s agenda. Following the recent news on the problem of media transparency with Facebook, HP says it has been working hard over the last year and a half to develop its own analytic platform internally, which it says has provided it with “tremendous improvements” to its performance, though it still works closely with Facebook and Google.

The company, which has now been around for 80 years, says the fact it keeps reinventing ensures it stays relevant and that its investments in marketing have become more robust over the last year.

Batra says the company has done a lot to build the HP brand under the tagline “keep reinventing”. This has also aided the company amid the rise of mobile and concerns that the PC market is stalling, something Batra himself shrugs off.

“It’s not that the PC category is dying, it is being reinvented. We’re seeing a shift in the kinds of devices people are using in the PC space,” he explains. “It all starts with innovation and teams working together and that’s is what our new CEO is driving.”

That supports HP Inc’s internal policy to create “engineering experiences that amaze”, something Batra says HP has achieved with its printer innovations, campaigns to stop hacking and “innovative” convertible tablets that can also be plugged in the same way as a desktop computer.

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