ADWATCH: Speed is the issue for Intel - As PC prices come under fire and rival chip makers offer cheap alternatives, Intel is emphasising its core message of speed, writes Robert McLuhan

Silicon chip manufacturer Intel is getting a double dose of publicity this month, as its successful new TV campaign coincides with gripes about the prices British PC buyers pay on the high street.

Silicon chip manufacturer Intel is getting a double dose of

publicity this month, as its successful new TV campaign coincides with

gripes about the prices British PC buyers pay on the high street.



A two-pronged approach by Euro RSCG aims to draw attention to the speed

advantages of its Pentium II processor, as well as reinforcing its

branding message.



Two humorous, half-minute executions, shown in November, focus on the

’speed matters’ theme. The ’what if’ scenarios imagine the calamities

that would ensue if the time taken to load a computer application were

transferred to a real-life situation.



In one, a sky diver anxiously waits for his parachute to appear, only

for a Windows alert box to appear telling him he needs a faster

processor.



The other shows a disaster on the football pitch, when a team’s goalie

can’t be downloaded quickly enough to stop the ball.



’The strategy was to play on the frustration you feel if your PC isn’t

working as fast as it might,’ says Euro RSCG board account director

Spencer Osborn.



The agency aimed at high production values for the films, which were

made by its US agencies in New York and California, and is pleased with

the feedback it has been getting.



Intel now offers the high performance Pentium II processor and an

economy chip called Celeron. Both will continue to benefit from the

general branding message in two other commercials that use the ’bunny

people’ image, familiar from earlier campaigns.



Both spots have the familiar ’Intel inside’ branding message and use the

five-note jingle used in all broadcast media.



The bunny people first appeared with the launch of Intel’s MMX

technology a year ago, combining high-tech futurism with the fun side of

multimedia technology. ’It’s still a very powerful icon, and we can use

it as a theme to run through the advertising,’ says marketing manager

Andy Tait.



Monopoly no more



Intel’s problem is that it provides only one of many components in the

end product. That didn’t matter as long as it had the PC processor

market to itself: its Pentium brand has become synonymous with the rise

and rise of the PC, and over 80% of currently active computers are said

to carry Intel chips.



But, for the past two years, chips made by rivals AMD and Cyrix have

been providing lower-cost alternatives, offering important savings for

PC buyers.



That could be making a difference. Intel roused controversy recently

when its chief executive Craig Barrett rounded on Dixons for damaging

Intel sales in Britain by charging ’ridiculous margins’.



Last year 95% of the computers sold by the Dixons Group carried Intel

chips, but that has now dropped to 55%, while the UK market has grown by

30% over the same period. Intel reacted to competition by dropping its

prices, but industry analysts say Dixons has failed to pass the savings

on.



In the UK, Intel has backtracked, fearing Barrett’s remarks would

antagonise its main channel to the high street - Dixons holds 50% of the

home PC market. But now the Consumers’ Association has joined the fray,

threatening to report Dixons to the Monopolies & Mergers Commission.



All of which is why Intel needs ever more powerful ads to push its brand

message to consumers.



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