HP launches biggest brand campaign in 12 years

HP is launching its biggest brand campaign in the UK and Ireland since its acquisition of Compaq in 2002 as the IT company looks to make business decision makers reappraise the brand and understand the broad range of products and services it offers.

Video: HP Cyber Security TV ad

The linchpin of the multi-million pound push is a TV campaign, consisting of three spots (see another video below). They aim to show that if the company can help some of the biggest businesses, industries and governments address their IT challenges it can also help consumers with their businesses and personal IT demands.

The “new style of IT” campaign runs through to outdoor, print and digital, including the creation of a dedicated microsite showcasing how the company provides solutions across mobility, cloud, big data and security. The digital element also includes the sponsorship of the Guardian’s online Ryder Cup coverage – where journalists will use its HP Explore data analytics technology – and a partnership with the Financial Times to create a “new style of IT” microsite.

Miguel Adao, enterprise group marketing director and OneHP marketing lead, told Marketing Week: “We are more than just printers and PCs. We want to tell people the complete story – particularly among enterprise customers – how HP helps big businesses and government address the biggest IT challenges of our age and educate the market by showcasing the breadth and depth of our portfolio.”

The copy chosen for the print ads in particular is “softer” than previous marketing efforts as HP looks to target potential customers as “people” and not just with tech jargon.

Adao says: “We are trying to inject a little bit less seriousness. We are still a trustworthy, reputable, premier IT company that the biggest companies in the world deal with – we don’t want to move away from that – but just soften the approach.”

The campaign also acts as a vehicle to demonstrate how HP has been moving to become “One HP” internally, better aligning its six different divisions and also cutting costs since CEO Meg Whitman arrived three years ago to drive the company’s turnaround. It has formed a “One HP” marketing council – which Adao leads – a OneHP sales community and OneHP internal communications group in recent months.

Adao says timing of the campaign was due to macro-economic trends affecting the business in the UK.

He adds: “[Why launch this now?] The UK is leading the G8 in terms of GDP and employment. HP’s second largest subsidiary outside the US is the UK, which acts as the beacon for other regions in terms of thought leadership initiatives.

“We are in the third year of Meg [Whitman, HP CEO’s] tenure and our UK and Ireland managing director Andy [Isherwood] is in situ. We have our leadership in place and have been talking about One HP and a ‘new style of IT’ internally for some time but there was a feeling that HP doesn’t shout loudly enough about what we offer.”

HP is hoping the campaign will drive consideration for the brand, according to Chris Carmichael, the company’s EMEA director of media and digital marketing.

He says: “We are trying to drive a reappraisal of the brand. Overall our brand metrics are good and awareness is strong but we are looking more in terms of consideration rather than awareness.

“Personally I would like to have a sales agent tell us they’ve had a customer talk about it in a meeting, that’s my personal goal.”

The challenge ahead

In terms of consideration, HP currently sits seventh out of 35 brands in the Home Office & Computing category of YouGov’s BrandIndex – although this index covers all consumers, not just the IT purchase decision makers HP is looking to target.

It is in eighth place in terms of impression, placing it behind brands such as Samsung (1st), Sony (2nd) and Panasonic (3rd).

HP reported a modest 1 per cent year on year revenue growth in its third quarter to $27.6bn – its first revenue lift in three years – with its personal systems group in particular growing by 12 per cent on the previous year. However, sales of PCs contribute little to HP’s bottom line, with the company reporting a 29 per cent drop in net earnings year on year to $1.7bn.

Meg Whitman said in a statement accompanying the third quarter results last month: “Overall, I’m very pleased with the progress we’ve made. When I look at the way the business is performing, the pipeline of innovation and the daily feedback that I receive from our customers and partners, my confidence in the turnaround grows stronger.”

Video: HP ‘Make it Matter’ Telco TV ad