CAMPAIGNS: Brand Awareness

How can a clunky, file-cabinet-sized computer with flashing lights and beeps that sound like Star Wars’ R2D2, get consumers to buy new computer equipment? In the case of Dell Computer, the hardware manufacturer ran a contest for the oldest PC in operation, which aimed to boost brand recognition and ultimately, sell more of its products.

How can a clunky, file-cabinet-sized computer with flashing lights and beeps that sound like Star Wars’ R2D2, get consumers to buy new computer equipment? In the case of Dell Computer, the hardware manufacturer ran a contest for the oldest PC in operation, which aimed to boost brand recognition and ultimately, sell more of its products.

How can a clunky, file-cabinet-sized computer with flashing lights

and beeps that sound like Star Wars’ R2D2, get consumers to buy new

computer equipment? In the case of Dell Computer, the hardware

manufacturer ran a contest for the oldest PC in operation, which aimed

to boost brand recognition and ultimately, sell more of its

products.





Strategy



Dell was hoping that its target market - small business owners with

antiquated computer equipment - would consider replacing some pieces

with updated Dell products. But even if the contest didn’t spark sales

directly, Dell wanted ’to break though the (advertising) clutter with

this program and hopefully become top-of-mind with the small business

customer,’ explains Andy Zmugg, managing supervisor of

Fleishman-Hillard’s Dallas office.



In return for donating the machine to the Computer Museum of America in

La Mesa, CA the winner would receive dollars 15,000 worth of

state-of-the-art Dell hardware during a ceremony at the museum. The only

caveat was that the winner had to provide proof of purchase and show

that the computer was being used for his or her business.





Tactics



Zmugg’s firm heralded the contest debut on May 24 with a notice on

Dell’s web site and a news release posted on Business Wire.



It had sent hundreds of releases on May 19 to major business

publications, the business sections of daily newspapers and local

business journals.



Then Fleishman-Hillard’s team, along with Dell’s small business

staffers, hit the phones. Since the entry deadline was July 26, ’we were

able to go for another two months pitching this story,’ Zmugg says. The

Fleishman-Hillard team suggested stories based on information gathered

from surveys contestants filled out, such as the old computers’

nicknames (Old Faithful, Reboot Bobby). It also notified local

publications about possible stories on contestants in their area.



USA Today and The Wall Street Journal vied for an exclusive on the

announcement of the winner. ’It showed that we hit a bull’s-eye,’ says

Marci Grossman, director of communications for Dell’s Home and Small

Business Group. Dell decided against USA Today because it ’wanted more

of a small business audience and we felt The Wall Street Journal reaches

that,’ Zmugg says.



The blinking, bleeping winner - a 1976 MITS Altair 8800b - was owned by

patent attorney John C. Shepard, who continued to use the machine to

print out forms for wills, patents and real estate transactions. Shepard

was enthusiastic about the event. ’He talked to tons of media,’ Zmugg

says. ’He was a good partner.’ The firm shot a B-roll package and

shipped it to TV affiliates across the country.





Results



The press release announcing the contest drew about 40 placements in

daily papers, business journals and wire services, notably on the

small-business section of US News and World Report’s web site. Some 700

requests for entries poured in from businesspeople, 209 of whom entered

the contest.



’We knew this contest had an impact on these small business owners, and

that they associate Dell as a small business provider, which was the

goal,’ Zmugg says.



Coverage of the museum ceremony ’went gangbusters,’ he brags. The WSJ

published its piece on the front page of the Marketplace section that

day. Every San Diego-area broadcast affiliate turned up, along with the

daily San Diego Union-Tribune and the Associated Press. In all, 38

newspapers and 13 broadcast affiliates across the nation picked up the

story.





Future



The campaign worked so well that Dell now refers to it as the benchmark

its other efforts must reach for.



Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register
Already registered?
Sign in

Would you like to post a comment?

Please Sign in or register.