H-P Brand Chief Says Effect Of Scandal Unclear

It's too soon to tell what effect the Hewlett-Packard spying scandal will have on the brand, Gary Elliott, vp of brand marketing, said at the ANA Masters of Marketing conference on Saturday--which he described as the first "HP Free Day," meaning the first time the story has been off the front page since the scandal broke.

Elliott opened a presentation about how H-P is successfully reinventing its brand with some pointed remarks about the legal imbroglio surrounding the company's involvement in bugging reporters and pretexting to get phone records to attempt to stem board leaks.

"The company is in great shape," he said. "I think the actions of a few are inexcusable."

After an engaging presentation involving how H-P is practicing "fresh marketing," Elliott was asked a pointed question about what the company intends to do to revive its brand. In a refreshingly honest answer, he replied: "I don't know yet."

Elliott said H-P will conduct research to determine what effect the incident has had and whether the effect is temporary or longer-term. He said the issue is one of corporate trust versus product trust, and the integrity of H-P's products is not at question.



H-P is also bracing for the next wave of publicity from former CEO Carly Fiorina's new book, which was the subject of a 60 Minutes segment last night in which the board was repeatedly referred to as "dysfunctional." In the show, Fiorina told interviewer Lesley Stahl that under her stewardship, research showed "the brand moved from stodgy white male to leading edge and relevant."

Answering the question of brand effect is of no small concern, as Elliott earlier told the conferees that H-P knows at least 40 percent of shareholder value is driven by brand.

The company totally decentralized 18 months ago, which has ushered in one expression of the brand across products and across countries. Among the many examples he shared were new ads for HP Notebooks: "The computer is personal again."

A few eyes moistened when Elliott replayed a segment from "Extreme Makeover: After the Storm," showing how HP staff set up a technology station in New Orleans to help restore precious photos damaged by the flood waters of Hurricane Katrina.

Other projects that Elliott discussed are HYPE galleries set up for customers to showcase design work created with HP technology, and a technology partnership with the automaker for the new Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, Germany.

Next story loading loading..