As PC era wanes, Intel moves away from ‘Intel Inside’

Intel was a Silicon Valley pioneer by powering the PC revolution. But now, with the weight of tech shifting to cloud computing and the Internet of Things, Intel’s facing an identity crisis.

That’s manifesting itself most directly in painful cuts — Intel said last week it would cut 12,000 jobs — but also in a shift away from its long-running “Intel Inside” marketing in order to connect with young people by emphasizing lifestyle areas it powers. After all, the desktop is no longer Intel’s core business — the data center, Internet of Things and memory businesses are now the company’s primary growth engines, which made up 40 percent of its revenue last year. The problem: people still associate Intel with being “inside” their desktops and laptops.

“‘Intel Inside’ lent the brand no real tangible presence in the marketplace or a direct relationship with the consumer. For millennials in particular, the brand looks irrelevant,” said Penny Baldwin, vp and general manager of Intel global brand management. “So we will stop focusing on where we are with ‘Intel Inside’ and instead focus on why we are an experiential exponent to draw a clear connection between our technology and consumer experience.”

Wearables and Internet of Things are logical outgrowths of the Intel brand as long as it still retains the concept that “Intel Inside” promoted: Electronics powered by Intel are superior. If Intel wants to distance itself entirely from the idea of “Intel Inside” and pivot to another message, however, it will take a long time and lots of work for the brand to re-educate the consumer, said Rebecca Brooks, co-founder of market research firm Alter Agents.

To rebrand itself, Intel will put more effort into sponsorship marketing to demonstrate how technology works in five areas that 18-34-year-olds are most passionate about: music, sports, entertainment, gaming and fashion. One thing it won’t emphasize: personal computers.

For example, via a partnership with the Grammy Awards this year, Intel integrated its computer graphics and interactive video into Lady Gaga’s performance as a tribute to David Bowie. The company built a “digital skin” for Lady Gaga so she could replicate Bowie’s looks during her live performance, as well as designed a ring — powered by Intel Curie — for the performer to give her real-time control of the stage.

Intel has also been heavily promoting its Curie technology during New York Fashion Week and brought its “freeD” video format (which uses high-resolution cameras and computer graphics) to big sporting events like the NBA, offering a 360-degree view of game action in three dimensions.

Sponsorships aside, Baldwin told Digiday that TV will play a pivotal role in Intel’s brand overhaul because TV ad campaigns around major events like Grammy Awards can help the company reach a significant number of audience at scale. “We don’t need to build that audience by ourselves, and we can push large technology integrations during those events,” she said.

The marketing shift comes at a difficult time for Intel. While it’s still a profitable company, its profit dropped $1.3 billion last year from 2014, and the company plans to cut 11 percent of its workforce, or 12,000 employees.

Baldwin declined to discuss figures regarding Intel’s ad spend and ROI, saying that the above marketing initiatives have helped increase brand value and change the perception of Intel as a chipmaker. Just online, though, Intel spent around $103 million on advertising in 2015, compared to $114 million a year prior, according to Kantar Media.

Intel usually uses social to amplify its TV exposure, she said. For example, from its Grammy’s social activation where it tapped into Lady Gaga’s large following base, Intel saw an eight-point increase in brand awareness from Twitter and a 13-point increase from YouTube.

From January of 2015 to date, Intel has received more positive than negative comments on its Facebook and Twitter posts, according to Unmetric.

In the realm of TV, Intel also debuted a reality show titled “America’s Greatest Makers” on TBS this past April, where 24 teams are competing to invent a tech product for a chance to win $1 million. Intel has a website for the show as well to serve the latest episodes and behind-the-scenes content. As of this past Friday, around 60 percent of visitors watched each video in its entirety, the company told Digiday.

As Intel’s marketing strategy is evolving, its internal advertising unit Agency Inside formed a content production division Intel Global Production Labs last year. The team of 40 produce TV, video, web and social content for Intel, as well as oversee strategic agency partnerships on behalf of the brand.

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