Cross-Media Case Study: Shooting From the HP

HP has ditched its buttoned-up boardroom image in favor of something way more hip. Perhaps tired of being the office workhorse while Apple's Mac gets all the attention, hp recruited some high-powered friends and donned a new marketing wardrobe. Its new marketing campaign, "The Computer Is Personal Again," exudes cool from design to execution. You've heard of geek chic, right?

The global campaign started with a buzzy blog and moved on to viral-worthy videos, user-generated content, an online game show, eye-popping ad banners, and other quirky touches, such as a personal ad on a dating site.

HP wants all this hipness to send the message that it understands people use their PCs to plan trips, meet people, track finances, organize photos, find new music, keep calendars, send e-mail, and more. "This isn't a commodity anymore," says Michael Ainscow, an advertising manager at hp. "[The PC] is something I carry with me everywhere I go."

Tapping Video to Make the Case

That understanding led Goodby, Silverstein & Partners to design a campaign for hp products that would reach people where they spend their time: online. Even the campaign's TV commercials launched on the Web, in some cases in partnership with relevant Web sites. Each video features a celebrity describing how he uses his PC; the Jay-Z spot launched simultaneously on the NBA finals site.

"With a lot of these people, their fan base [is] very much online, very viral," Ainscow says. An hp spot featuring producer and rapper Pharrell Williams ran on the front page of, and "brought in some huge traffic numbers."

Jay-Z's video has generated more than 118,000 views on YouTube alone, according to HP. A spot featuring Olympic snowboarder Shaun White has been viewed nearly 30,000 times. The "making of" companion video has more than 6,000 views, and - the ultimate tribute - users have begun making spoofs.

HP won't say how many viewers have logged on to the shopping site, but Ainscow says online and retail results have been encouraging. "We're seeing a definite uptick in all our traditional channels."

The success has only partly been due to collaboration and buzz. The short videos, designed and directed by Motion Theory, are highly watchable. Each celebrity appears as torso and arms only, using his hands to show what's on his PC. White shows off new board designs and flips through his music collection. Reality TV pioneer Mark Burnett plays with 3-D sets for "Survivor." But the viewer doesn't know who's speaking until each commercial ends.

The hint of mystery, the celebrities themselves, and the online launch helped make the ads great viral content, says Lisa Johnson, marketing consultant and author of the forthcoming book, Mind Your X's & Y's: Satisfying the 10 Cravings of a New Generation of Consumers. "That sense of discovery - of finding something through your underground network and having that social currency - we cannot underestimate that," Johnson says.

The HP microsite, designed by Goodby and built by Agency, gives users reasons to go deeper into the campaign, where they can explore each celebrity's personal "desktop." Jay-Z's includes images from next season's Rocawear line, vacation photos, and digital music files submitted by fans. Burnett posts some survival guide tips and, in a bit of cause marketing, links to two of his favorite charities.

Users can also make their own HP commercials. The site grants just enough freedom to create something worth e-mailing to friends without ceding control over the branded look and feel. "I loved that they gave us an insider pass to [each celebrity's] life, but there was also that 'that's me' moment," Johnson says. "Then they turned around [and] let you be in the story too."

Vlog, Provocation, and Partners

Well-placed print and TV ads complement the campaign, but the array of supplementary online efforts position it as hip and creative., a videoblog that at first seemed to be the work of a bored office worker and soccer fanatic, appeared just before the 2006 FIFA World Cup and generated quite a buzz, leading many users to the "Personal Again" site. A personal ad on described an hp notebook as "slim and ready to travel anywhere." A takeover banner on Yahoo Entertainment for the Pavilion dv800t Entertainment Notebook sucked content off the page, with the tagline, "Like you, it craves entertainment."

"We made sure we partnered with media that let us do different things," says Nancy Reyes, Goodby's account director on the hp personal systems group account.

In collaboration with mtvU, hp presented "Meet or Delete," a game show broadcast online. One person decides which of three contestants to meet just by browsing their hard drives. The site offers multiple episodes tailored to various global regions; more episodes are planned.

MTV also included links to the films on many of its properties. In fact, MTV launched the new series on all its platforms simultaneously, including wireless and the MTV screen in Times Square, a first for the network. It was the also first time the network premiered a series to a global audience.

Blogging HP

With so much happening online, it's no surprise the campaign garnered attention from bloggers. The campaign has been mentioned in more than 85 unique blog entries to date, generating about 125,000 links to nearly 20,000 additional blogs, according to HP.

The mentions haven't all been positive: Some bloggers criticized the typography and graphics as far too similar to the covers of two high-profile novels by Jonathan Safran Foer (the same artist created graphics for both brands). Some rolled their eyes at heavy product placement in a Jessica Simpson video (not technically part of the "Personal" campaign). blogger Leigh Householder observed that the coolest products the campaign pushes don't come standard with a PC purchase.

But even critical bloggers offered appreciative nods for design and creativity, and especially for the way Goodby distributed the celebrity videos. Chris Thilk, a blogger on, lauded the technology giant for placing the videos online first, in effect taking the message directly to the consumer.

"It's very much understanding that they're not really in control, that the customer is in control of how they consume the content," Thilk says. "People are consuming media on the fly."

Market researcher Johnson says the attention bloggers gave the campaign speaks to the powerful influence of citizen experts. "The connected consumer, the level of detail [with which] they analyze everything that's going on right now - I think it's unprecedented," she says. "It's not just, 'Check out this cool new thing.' We all think like marketers now, and we think like brand owners."

HP's Ainscow says that the company takes bloggers' praises and criticisms to heart.

As the campaign unfurls around the world, more celebrity videos are in the works. A famous architect from Japan or a fashion designer from Italy may appear on regional Web sites or broadcast channels, Ainscow says.

Johnson, a former hp user who now swears by her Mac, echoes Advergirl's criticism. Still, she says, the campaign succeeds at reaching consumers because it acknowledges the sophistication of its target audience and the power of connected consumers.

"HP can benefit from a fresh campaign like this," Johnson adds. "You've got to give them a hand. They did their homework. They tapped into a lot of very relevant cravings."

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