Hewlett-Packard looks to its past and gets an image
makeover from stodgy to hip
by Ann Cooper
Hewlett-Packard is betting its future on relationship marketing, the
philosophy of 'change' and on placing the consumer firmly at the center
of its marketing universe. By doing so, and continuing to streamline and
innovate its product lines, the 65-year-old company hopes to ensure its
survival for the next 65 years.
'You have to go back in history to understand that our philosophy is all
about relationship-driven marketing,' says Julia Mee, HP's director of
global advertising. Having just launched a 42" plasma TV and a digital
entertainment center, plus the HP Apple iPod, Mee says they'll be
continuing to expand the consumer products base. 'We're not moving away
from our digital core, we're adding on. Our philosophy is to have one
cohesive branding campaign, '+ HP' and we're looking at things beyond TV
and print. We have to be more immersive in our consumers, which means
more experiential advertising.'
Indeed, HP's future is very much tied to its storied past. HP was
started back in 1939 by Stanford graduates and engineers Bill Hewlett
and Dave Packard in a Palo Alto garage. The company?s first product was
an audio oscillator to fine-tune the soundtrack of Disney's 'Fantasia.'
Early on the visionary partners grasped that the key to success in the
mercurial electronics field was constant innovation, a philosophy that
still drives the company today. The two entrepreneurs quickly branched
out and in time, HP became known for such inventions as the pocket
calculator and the desktop laser printer, and today, that Palo Alto
garage bears a plaque proclaiming it the 'Birthplace of Silicon Valley.'
The company was also known for its revolutionary social and management
practices that eventually became the gold standard for many U.S.
companies. It introduced the concepts of health benefits, profit
sharing, bonuses tied to productivity and an open door policy.
During the '80s and '90s, HP transformed itself from a maker of high-end
scientific instruments into a computer company with broad business
applications, consumer appeal and double-digit growth. It was also seen
as being boring and predictable, and hardly renowned for its marketing.
When the dot-com bust happened, HP suffered along with everyone else.
Carly Fiorini took over as HP's chief executive in 2000 and supervised
the 2002 merger with Compaq. Her second mission was to ramp up the
marketing profile, reinvent the company and repackage it for survival in
the 21st century as a vibrant consumer brand like Nike or Coca-Cola. Key
was targeting the younger iMac generation and changing HP's stodgy
When Goodby, Silverstein and Partners entered the picture in 1999, it
was put in charge of ushering in a new, more consumer-friendly image of
HP. They soon launched the '+ HP' campaign and the theme 'everything is
'The job we set out to do when we launched the '+ HP' campaign was to
move the company from being seen as a boring but reliable printer maker
to a more dynamic brand,' says John Coyne, who heads up the HP account
at Goodby. Goodby introduced a series of campaigns that targeted
different HP customers. Common to both consumer and business markets was
the concept of 'Change + HP.' For HP's Enterprise division aimed at
business decision makers, one 30-second spot followed an IT executive
walking through his office as the world changes around him and featured
a new arrangement of the Who's '70s hit, 'Baba O'Riley.' Then there was
an outdoor campaign that changed over time with the help of plants, both
real and artificial. It adorned jetways at airports and targeted
business and IT executives in major cities.
To read more about Hewlett-Packard, pick up a copy of the Winter 2005
issue of one. a magazine, available in February