HP continues music marketing focus despite major upheaval

HP is looking to continue its strategy to become a “cool”, “music-focused” brand in 2012, despite leaving and then subsequently rejoining the hardware market with a new CEO last year.

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Plan B appeared in HP’s cinema campaign last year

The PC-maker, which had to drop a multi-million dollar celebrity-studded marketing campaign to promote its first tablet device TouchPad after it initially announced it was to leave the hardware category, has asserted it will continue its music focus in a bid to encourage younger consumers to buy its range of desktop computers and laptops.

HP CEO Leo Apotheker announced the company was to sell off its PC business to focus on software in August last year. The company then replaced Apotheker with former eBay chief Meg Whitman in September, who decided HP should reverse the decision to back out of the hardware market following a strategic review of its portfolio.

Rebecca Shears, UK marketing director of HP’s personal systems group, says despite a period of major upheaval, her remit will remain the same.

“We did research and found that consumers weren’t aware at all [of the changes at the company] and it didn’t affect them – the personal systems group has had the best Christmas it has ever had and we’ve managed to keep up our relationships with our retailers and commercial customers really well,” she adds.

She adds that new CEO Whitman is set to bring more “alignment” to the company as she settles into her leadership.

“We went through a very public audit but I think, from what we’ve seen already, that Meg [Whitman] will bring more alignment, so that the company is one HP,” Shears says.

HP enlisted the help of UK pop star Plan B for its marketing campaign last year to help demonstrate the “Beats” audio technology that comes installed in HP Premium PCs and laptops range.

Shears says: “A UK artist resonated really well, so we are looking into what we can do this year in a similar fashion.”

HP will also invest more in its in-store staff presence, in outlets including PC World and Currys, and will look to engage with consumers online to encourage them to trial and talk about its product range.

Shears says: “Our upcoming campaign will have no TV, we will be looking to drive people to Facebook and online to drive engagement. We are looking to go where the consumer is, not because that’s cheaper [than traditional advertising like TV], but because it is more effective.”

HP is also partnering with Intel to push the latter company’s “Ultrabook” concept of laptops, which are smaller, more powerful and more premium devices. Intel predicts that 40% of the consumer laptop market will be Ultrabooks by the end of 2012.

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