Posts Tagged: intel

Jun 17

Steve Jobs and the missing “Intel Inside” sticker

Maybe I have a bad attitude.

I’d be quite content if I never again heard the Intel “bong” at the end of every PC ad.

I’d also be terminally depressed if I had to look at a gaudy Intel Inside sticker every time I opened my MacBook.

I get that Intel Inside is one of the most successful marketing campaigns in business history. It’s just that after 36 years, that logo starts to feel more like a pollutant than an advertising device.

Thankfully, Macs have remained 100% free of Intel branding since Apple adopted its processors way back in 2006.

We have Steve Jobs’s sensibilities to thank for this. But how it all happened is a fun little story.

First—a little background for those who might have forgotten. Continue reading →

Aug 11

HP Personal Sys Grp 4 Sale: Call Léo

It’s those damn phone hackers again. This time they’re listening in on Léo Apotheker’s conversations at HP. I can’t condone the hackers’ methods, but I thought this transcript would be of interest to my readers.


8.22.2011 | 9:48 am | HP | Apotheker Office Line 2

Hello, is this Léo?

Yes, who is this please?

Hi Léo, my name is Jack.
I’m calling about the Personal Systems Group for sale?

Yes, hello Jack. How can I help you?

Well, can you tell me a little more about it?

Anything in particular?

Does it come with all the accessories? Like confusing
models and configurations, mediocre designers, invisible
profit margins, crapware and infuriating tech support?

Yes, it comes with all the essentials.

And you’ve sold your soul to Intel and Microsoft?

Correct, and those contracts will be included as well.
They’re fully transferable.

Perfect. Well look, I’m very interested.
Are you flexible on price?

I’m sorry, no. It’s just supply and demand.
Right now, we’re the only PC group for sale —
at least until Michael Dell accepts reality.

Alright, but listen, I’m also interested in tablets
and smartphones. Anything like that available?

I do have tablets and smartphones, but they’re not for sale.

Just my luck. I was bidding for Palm a year ago and
some ass swooped in and bid $1.2 billion for it.

Uh … that was my company.

Oh god, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to call you an ass.

No prob, it wasn’t me. It was the guy who had my job before.

Okay, I get it. So you’re going to keep selling WebOS tablets
and smartphones then?

Actually, not. We’re going to caravan out to the Palo Alto
landfill and dump all the code and unsold devices.

Wouldn’t it be easier just to sell it all to me?

No, I need to prove that my predecessor wasted a billion dollars.
If I sell it to you, we wouldn’t lose nearly as much.

(Dramatic pause)

May 11

Intel’s “Chase” strikes again

Intel’s on-again, off-again flirtation with creativity has taken a turn for the better, thanks to the efforts of agency Venables & Partners.

Remember the neat film they made a few months back — The Chase — to introduce the latest Core i5 chip? What made it such a hit (over 2 million views) was that, instead of being confined to film, they used the visual language of computers to draw us into the action. In this “bad guys chase Bond-like woman” story, the characters run, jump and fight through FaceBook, YouTube, iTunes, chat windows, video games, Google Maps and more — and it all actually makes sense.

But it was a film. That is, all of this action took place inside the single frame you were watching on YouTube.

Now The Chase is back, and it’s literally broken out of its box. When you visit the Intel page on Facebook, you can see the movie, or you can “launch the HTML5 experience,” which performs its intricate choreography all over your own display.

Is it great? Well, they definitely get an A for effort. The HTML5 experience is truly fun to watch. It’s the launching part that gets a bit dicey.

Before you can watch, you have to download and cache what appears to be the Library of Congress, but is in fact all the video clips needed to run the experience.

Maybe you’ll have better luck with your setup. To be fair, I must have tried this a good 15 times, using Safari, Firefox and Chrome. Only twice did I make it in less than a minute (Chrome was fastest), the other times varied from pretty-darn-long to way-way-long (well over three minutes). Several times Firefox literally gave up the fight without even telling me why.

Once you get it going, it really is cool. One cosmetic difference between the movie and the HTML5 version is that HTML5 apparently requires the windows to be visibly loaded — so you get about eight tiny windows stacked at the bottom left of your display, hoping that you don’t notice.

Then there’s the game, in which you’re challenged to find nine bits from the movie hidden in various places on the Internet. Unfortunately, I couldn’t play because the Play button set off the Ken Segall Personal Defense System. Upon clicking, the app asked permission to do a Facebook body search, extracting my name, profile picture, user ID and list of friends. Not sure what would have happened, but it sure sounds like my friends would get spammed with a note telling them how much I loved this. I panicked and backed out.

So, yes, there are some negatives, but the creative work itself remains fun to watch. And the page does a nice job of creating some positive buzz for Intel.

It’s just unfortunate that the mechanics of the HTML5 production give you the feeling that this kind of stuff will work a lot better one day in the future. Maybe when we’re all using i5 chips?

Some credits for this effort. Agency: Venables & Partners; Writer: Josh Parshauer; Art Director: Beau Hanson; Associate Creative Directors: Paul Foulkes and Tyler Hampton. Interactive Creative Director: David Kim; Production Company: Nexus Interactive Arts (live action directors: Smith & Foulkes).

Sep 10

Intel’s character fetish

What is it with these people and their character-based ads? Far and away, Intel has used more zany characters to tell their story than any other technology company.

This isn’t a marketing plan, it’s an obsession.

It was the Bunny Men who started them down this dark path so many years ago — those dancing engineers, dressed in colorful cleanroom suits. Then came Homer Simpson, Blue Man Group, Aliens, Singing Processors and the forlorn Robot from this year’s Super Bowl.*

Now comes the crowning touch. Using a big chunk of their Intel-Inside cash, Intel satisfied their character addiction by renting the Penguins from Madagascar. Looks like they splurged for the Dreamworks package deal too, because the entire cast of Shrek appears (awkwardly) at the end.

Obviously Intel believes this kind of hilarity will propel them to marketing success. Only two things wrong with this theory: (1) it won’t, and (2) it ain’t funny.

If advertising were really this easy, we’d see SpongeBob for Apple and Wile E. Coyote for Google. It’s ironic: Intel tries desperately to be known as the world’s smartest company, yet they can’t bring themselves to give customers credit for having a little intelligence.

I have to say, this Penguins spot came as a surprise to me. The marketing team at Intel has totally changed over the years, and I thought for sure they’d gotten over this “wacky character” fixation. Must be something in the water over there.

(*Full disclosure: During my time as a creative director on the Intel business, I actually participated in some of these misadventures. I swear, I was blindfolded and had a gun to my head.)

Dec 09

Intel employees nearly go splat

Hey, give Intel credit for being innovative. I don’t recall Apple ever firing their employees out of cannons just to deliver another brand impression. Though I did once see Phil Schiller leap 20 feet into a pile of pillows while demoing Apple’s first wireless laptop.

This is the bold, hell-with-the-lawyers kind of action I like to see from a technology company.

(And no, I don’t think it’s real!)

Nov 09

Choking on their own words

I have to thank my new best friend Sekhar in India for this contribution. It’s an HP commercial currently running in his country. In just 30 seconds, it demonstrates the absurdity of complex product naming.

The narrator for the spot is speaking to us human-to-human, until someone sticks a gun in his back and forces him to say:

My HP Pavillion dv5-1221tx Notebook PC for high-definition entertainment tells my story. What’s yours?

Well, whatever my story is, I’m sure I can say it quicker than that. Pardon me for counting, but that PC moniker runs a full 13 syllables! I suspect this is a record that will stand for some time. Though I don’t doubt that new contenders are warming up in the wings…

Update 2:00pm EST 11.06.09: I was having some fun with this one, but I probably should have made a serious point. Every advertiser has to be extremely realistic about what a viewer will take away from an ad. It is unrealistic to believe anyone will remember this ridiculous product name. It is very realistic to believe they might remember HP makes a cool notebook. Forcing this crap into the commercial only distracts from the good stuff. Whoever insisted on this needs to be taken out to the shed.

Oct 09

Missing rock star alert!

Guess the real Ajay was too geeky for the role

Guess the real Ajay was too geeky even by Intel's standards

In an earlier post, I was heaping praise upon Intel and agency Venables Bell & Partners for churning out a surprisingly good campaign. The Rock Star spot shines the spotlight on Intel employee Ajay Bhatt for co-inventing the USB port. “Our rock stars aren’t like your rock stars,” they say. Well, it turns out that their rock star isn’t like anyone’s rock star — he’s just an actor. Conan O’Brien sits down with the real Ajay here. Maybe I’m just a stickler for detail, but in my experience you can’t say “this is the guy” if this really isn’t the guy. Is it “Be Kind To Creatives Month” at the Intel legal department? One reason I liked this idea was that it authentically captured Intel’s values. Hmm. Maybe it still does…

(Thanks, Adam, for the tip!)

Aug 09

Tales from the dark side: testing

That guy on the left? He thinks your ad could use a little pep at frame 22.

Uh oh, that guy on the left has an issue with Frame 16

With all that gushy love stuff in my last post, I feel a need to dredge up some painful memories to make up for it. This is what I call “fair and balanced.” So today’s topic will be that longtime nemesis of creativity: testing. We should start by grudgingly accepting that testing is just a fact of life with certain clients. However, one thing we should never accept — grudgingly or otherwise — is the misuse of testing. This not only kills great work and depresses people, it’s a horrific waste of money.

To make your blood run cold, I have a favorite example. (Kindly relive your own nightmares by adding your comments for the amusement of all.) Not sure if it’s still the case, but for a long time Intel had a large in-house group that specialized in this dark business. Their mission was to unrelentingly test around the world to make doubly-triply sure that Intel’s advertising convinced everyone and offended no one. Creative ideas were tested no less than three times: at the concept stage (to determine which ads to run), after production (so we could tweak before going public) and after the ads had already run (so we could tweak again and/or gain “learnings”). If you’re a fan of the Rack or other instruments of torture, you will especially enjoy the way they went at it with a 30-second TV spot. After viewing, individuals would be shown a series of 30 frames — one for each second of the commercial. They were asked if they could recall each frame, and in this way all 30 frames were rated on their effectiveness. Never mind that some of these frames were transitional and not exactly high points of the story. The research group would present a voluminous report, complete with suggested “improvements.” After all, we couldn’t have a spot in which the test audience was under-thrilled by the 4th, 12th and 21st frames. It was at this time that the creative team would jump to its feet to explain what most children pick up after their first viewing of Dumbo: a good movie has peaks and valleys, and the peaks don’t feel very peaky without the valleys. Intel seemed to be of the mind that if they were spending a million bucks, they should really get their money’s worth — out of every frame. Granted, a commercial does need to get noticed, but if I were an advertiser I’d be a little more concerned about what happens after the last frame. Like what kind of impression did the viewer walk away with?

The way different companies use or don’t use testing is a rich, rich topic that will likely come up often here. I’ll bet there are some really uplifting stories out there as well as excruciating ones, because (thankfully) smartness has a way of winning in the end. I’d love to hear which companies are doing it right and wrong.

Aug 09

Getting inspired by … Intel?

Intel goes creative with the Rock Star

Who sprinkled the creative fairy dust on Intel?

To be honest, I’d long given up hope that we’d ever speak the words Intel and creative in the same sentence. Intel has a track record of spending serious money on some of the world’s most dubious creative work, which is then processed and tested beyond imagination. After the embarrassing “lap dancing” campaign, the we-can-be-cool-too “multiplicity” campaign and processors singing hi-ho as they leave the factory — I wouldn’t have bet on Intel to be the scene of any creative renaissance. However, I think we have a moral duty to praise those who deserve praising, no matter how grievous their past offenses. There’s a lot to praise in Intel’s current Sponsors of Tomorrow effort. The Rock Star video (see it here) is a great idea that could easily have been made silly in production (and would have been, under a previous regime), but was obviously shepherded by some super-talented people. The concept of Sponsors has the wit and intelligence that a global power deserves. The campaign is much bigger than this video, including another great spot called Oops and an assortment of pieces for print and web. It’s all really well thought out and executed.

Intel’s new work launched back in May, which makes this review a bit tardy. But this blog is only three days old, so you have to be nice to me. The creative is the work of Venables Bell & Partners in SF, and they should be terrifically proud. I know many who have attempted to slay the Intel beast, rarely with more than limited success. Heck, I was one of them. Additional kudos go to those inside Intel who were able to push this work through, as their organization has never been structured to give great creative work more than lip service. One telling sign that something amazing is happening here is what they have done with the famous Intel “Bong” at the end of the Rock Star and Oops spots. From experience, I can tell you that this element is beyond untouchable. Even unspoken thoughts to modify it have in the past been punishable by death. Yet Venables has succeeded in presenting the Bong sung by a chorus of Intel humans on-screen. It feels like we’re witnessing the birth of a whole new Intel. It’s fantastic. There is more stuff on the Intel site beyond the video, and most is nicely written. Of course the website is a bit spotty — the business side remains dreary, some of the messaging is still rooted in the Intel of old, and the Intel product badges remain as mortifying as ever.

Zooming up to the highest level, it’s important to appreciate what work like this does for a company like Intel. For the first time in eons, people will not only understand what Intel does, they will simply think: “I like these guys.” That’s how you build an emotional bond with your customers. And that’s something Intel hasn’t done in ages.

Aug 09

Launch Day

rocket_2Hello and thank you for showing up. This blog is something that’s been on my to-do list for eons and I can procrastinate no longer. If you don’t know me already, a quick introduction: I’m Ken Segall, technology and advertising enthusiast. For over 20 years, I’ve been involved in advertising, product naming and strategy for some of your most loved (and maybe most loathed) companies — including Apple, IBM, Dell and Intel. (I get into a lot more detail at my website, if you’re interested). I must say, I am continually amazed how often history repeats itself — and how often history is ignored. Some of my journeys in advertising have been exhilarating beyond expectation, others were so horrifying you may have to cover your ears. I’ve spent my professional life working across the table from people as brilliant as Steve Jobs and as deluded as… well, I’ll fill in those blanks a little later.

When I hire creative people, my first priority has always been to find out if a person even likes technology. I mean, if the conversation goes that way at a party, do you excuse yourself to get another drink or do you actually get a charge out of talking about it? Just think of this blog as a party where your host keeps babbling about technology and marketing. You can always excuse yourself to visit a blog that serves better refreshments – but I hope you’ll stay and offer up your own opinions.

I’m eager to talk about the successes and failures not only in the marketing of technology, but in the technology itself. These days, we’re all responsible for what the technology companies are creating. We vote every day with our wallets and words. No topic is off limits, and I do hope we can stir up a little trouble here. Stay tuned…