The new global campaign from McCann Erickson features the tiny, happy semiconductor chip, or processors--the brain of the PC, which controls what the computer does. The Centrino Duo ads have charming processors with British accents chatting and singing inside a whimsical semiconductor fabrication facility where chips are manufactured.
The U.S. campaign, which launched last week, primarily focuses on Intel Centrino processor technology but also supports Intel Core2 Duo processors outside the U.S. in select countries. While Intel ran ads last year directed toward tech-savvy consumers, the company says these ads aim at the mainstream audience. Not all agree.
Analysts got a peak at the campaign earlier this month during a briefing held at Intel's Santa Clara, Calif. headquarters. The ads target the tech-savvy younger generation with the dollars, says Len Jelinek, director and principal analyst, semiconductor manufacturing at research firm iSuppli. "Intel tried to go back to its roots with this ad campaign and draw attention to the fact they're all about processors, and I'm not convinced they hit their mark," he says.
This year the ads seem to address an array of consumers. Jelinek says on average most analysts felt positive about the ads. In "Goodbye," two old friends, or chips, travel down separate conveyer belts that run parallel, but eventually part. The ad expects viewers to know that in the manufacturing process dozens of semiconductors are cut from the same disc before being built into individual computers. The ad "Mystery" targets the less tech-savvy to play off the concept of conception and birth by asking: "When does a computer become a computer."
The "Heigh Ho" spot appeals to the masses by bringing back happy childhood memories with music from the Disney classic "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs." This ad features robotic arms plucking the chips from the conveyor belt and placing them inside waiting computers. Copy on the screen reads: "Put an amazing processor to work inside your notebook."
Last year Intel spent $56 million on television, print, radio and outdoor advertising campaigns--up from $51 million in 2005, and down from more than $86 million in 2004, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus.
Intel also took the Core2 Duo processor campaign into the virtual world's Second Life, with help from the online development company Millions of Us. Intel Island, a software developers' community, provides a learning center for technical content and training. "In Second Life it's all about speaking with your audience, not to your audience," says Stephanie Dillard, Intel's global consumer media manager.
A part of the island lets Second Life avatars build motorcycles with Intel-embedded chips, which the reality TV show "Orange County Choppers" co-sponsors. Dillard says building and holding events on the island, including a concert where 34,000 were in attendance during the three-day event, costs about 1% of the company's "six figure" traditional spend on ad campaigns.
During the first half of this year, Intel spent $2.8 million for online advertising, such as image-based technologies and advertising sold per CPM, according to Nielsen//NetRatings AdRelevance. The research firm says last year Intel spent $9.1 million, up from $5.7 million in 2005.
Intel first entered Second Life last year, spending 72 hours to explore the virtual world before launching Intel Island on June 29. "We built part of the Island underground allowing people to journey to the heart of Intel Island," Dillard says. "We focused on the marketing message, 'Intel Inside,' by taking you down underground to the island, which is powered by a Core2 Duo chip."