Dell looks beyond normal audience to showcase revolutionary laptop

Dell soft-launched its new Latitude Z laptop in October. With "the world's thinnest, lightest 16-inch laptop," according to Dell's website, it sought to target global small and midsize businesses (SMB) via IT media outreach.

Client: Dell (Singapore)
PR agency: Axicom (San Francisco)
Campaign: Latitude Z launch
Duration: October 2009-February 2010
Budget: $75,000

Dell soft-launched its new Latitude Z laptop in October. With "the world's thinnest, lightest 16-inch laptop," according to Dell's website, it sought to target global small and midsize businesses (SMB) via IT media outreach. The company, however, soon realized that to truly penetrate this audience and compete with brands like Apple, it had to boost PR to shift perceptions of the brand.

"Looking beyond the Engadgets and CNETs is actually a big deal for Dell," says Faith Brewitt, director of corporate communications and global SMB communications at Dell. "Five to 10 years ago, Dell was known as affordable and gray. Today, we have some really sexy stuff."

Strategy
Working with Axicom and using funding from its Microsoft partner, Dell opted to build a foundation for viral buzz by engaging entrepreneurs and business leaders, who would then serve as product brand ambassadors on social media platforms.

"It was about getting product out to real people," says Brewitt.

Tactics
The team provided the laptop to "Lati-Z" ambassadors, including active community members such as Linda Rottenberg, cofounder and CEO of entrepreneur network Endeavor, and members of its Take Your Own Path community.

Humorous YouTube videos helped communicate product benefits, while highlighting people's surprised reactions to learning that the design was Dell's. Media outreach included business and lifestyle outlets, as well as radio business shows.

Results
Coverage included PCWorld and Men's Health. During the launch and Dell's fiscal fourth quarter, sales of the mobility product line, which includes the Latitude Z, rose 16% year on year.

"We've been able to sustain the level of interest," says Vanessa Yanez, SVP at Axicom.

Future
The team will continue to encourage its ambassadors to talk about the product.

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