Intel's Brand Strategy – Make Remarkable Ads

There Are Ads & There Are Brand Ads
Not all ads are born equal, and not all ads have the same role in life. Most ads come with a consumer proposition, buy this product with these features for this once-only price. And then there are the brand ads, those that choose to communicate an attribute or personality of a brand. Whichever way you define them however, precious few ads can be described as remarkable.

So There We Were On New Years Eve…
Over the recent Christmas and New Years break we spent much time relaxing with family and friends, that wonderful amount of time when the ‘big ticket’ conversations are exhausted and small talk takes over. During the break we had not one, not two, but three different conversations with different groups of people in which the new Intel ads were discussed. So much were they touted that on my return I just had to visit Google to check them out for myself.

So What Makes a Good Brand Ad?

For me there are three key ingredients to making a great brand ad:
01. The first is there must be a clear and memorable take-out that leaves the viewer with a strong sense of the key brand attribute as defined by a brand’s strategy;
02. The ad must exude the personality of the brand, no use casting Britney Spears to sell financial products to pensioners (well not yet anyway); and
03. The ad must be remarkable. Whether through humor, production, effects, story-telling, concept, scale or uniqueness, the ads need to drive the brand message home like a nail to the brain.

For me this wonderful campaign for Intel contains all three ingredients required for a wonderful, memorable brand ad.

If you’d like to chat with us about turning your advertising messages into brand communications, just give us a call, we’d love to help.

David Ansett, Brandamentalist
If you’d like daily updates of our brand thinking, you can follow me on Twitter here.

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  1. What makes a good brand ad? If there is such a thing, a compelling call to action.
    These are great ads, really well executed but a complete waste of money as consumers don’t buy what they are selling. Other businesses do and they should focus their resources on engaging with those businesses.

  2. Marcus, I’m not sure I can agree an ad requires a compelling call to action to be considered a good brand ad. That is certainly what I was taught at ad school back in the 90s, but my time working in brand has convinced me of the benefits of brands promoting their go-to-market proposition (such as ‘we are absolutely technology driven’). Intel has built their brand around ‘end consumer-driven awareness’. They had the balls to invest in driving that awareness and became the worlds No 1. chip maker with little product advantage. The incumbent AMD lost their throne and a big chunk of market share by taking a traditional B2B approach.

  3. These ads and the whole Sponsors of Tomorrow campaign have been a great success. The old product-focused “intel inside” ads lacked meaning. The shift to brand marketing is great step not just in itself but also in giving meaning to “intel inside”.

  4. David, thanks for taking the time to reply to my comment.

    Today, advertising is tactical, branding is strategic. I’m not saying I am right, but I don’t understand how an ad can be a brand ad. And I don’t believe that today, one can build a brand on awareness.

    I don’t think Intel built its brand around ‘end consumer driven awareness’. I believe that Intel built its brand via the brilliant strategic relationships it built with computer makers. Or, as you put it, the traditional B2B approach that didn’t work for AMD.

    And even if you are right, the world is a very different place today than it was even in the 1990s.

    Nowadays, in a media saturated world, awareness is just background noise that means very little. For most companies, and there are very few exceptions, in an age when information on every product and service is widely available, and consumers have more choice, are better informed, and more powerful, creating awareness is not going to build a brand. For instance here in Malaysia, we’re all aware of Mazda, Alfa Romeo, Eon Bank, American Airlines and many other multi national global brands, yet most of us will go through life without ever buying something from these companies.

    Indeed, many companies have realized, sadly after spending millions on advertising, that advertising can raise awareness (and even that outcome is not a given), but still fail to transform an offering into a brand (I’ve written about these on my blog – sorry for the shameless self promotion!). Settling for awareness, when so much more is possible and required is a total waste of valuable funds.

    Of course Intel is technology driven, what else could it be?

  5. Marcus
    Very much enjoying the discussion around brand/advertising.
    Looks like we’re going to have to agree to disagree on the one hand, but on the other hand I agree 100%.
    I couldn’t agree more that too many brands for too long have spent huge budgets on TV advertising that could have been more effectively invested in other brand building activities.
    On the other hand, I remain convinced of the role that TV advertising can play as part of an integrated brand communication campaign.
    Always happy to agree to disagree, with great respect and good humor.

  6. “The incumbent AMD lost their throne and a big chunk of market share by taking a traditional B2B approach.”

    Actually, this is incorrect. AMD actually fell behind in the technology race because of insufficient investment in chip design and fabs. Intel will continue its leadership because during the current recession, mainly because they have substantially boosted technology investment, especially in its fabs.

    Also, one reason that Intel is in so many PCs (with Intel inside stickers) is because of the very substantial spiffs given to manufacturers. The spiffs could not be matched by AMD without it potentially going out of business. This is why Intel is facing investigation by the EU for antitrust activity.

    And Marcus is correct when he says that its advertising is essentially irrelevant. Quick! Why did you buy your last computer? Because of some hardware it had inside, or because of the operating system and software you wanted? Remember, it’s content and functionality that sells, not the machine.

    Are Intel’s ads good? Definitely. Has Intel done the right thing and followed a consistent strategy (first outlined by Andy Grove) for more than a decade? Absolutely. Is its advertising the reason for its market dominance? Perhaps a small factor, but it’s debatable whether the return has been worth the substantial investment.

    A much more interesting question, however, is what that paragon of branding, Apple, will do with the A4, which is the most amazing chip to come down the pike for several years. But if I had to bet I’d say that you’ll never see an ad saying “A4 Inside.”

  7. Nick, Thanks for the comment – Knowledge is King and you’ve shone some light beautifully on this discussion. From a brand perspective, great brands almost always come on the back of great products. AMD’s falling behind in the technology race sounds like it was the start of the end. But likewise, Intel’s continuing investment in technology development during the recession reflects the behavior of most of the leading brands world-wide over the last two years.
    There’s no doubt Intel’s business approach has been a large part of their success. But don’t underestimate the role of the brand in their success also.
    We always need to be careful in discussing the way brands and advertising work that we don’t base our judgments on personal views and reactions. The ‘Why did you buy your last computer’ question is over-simplistic and too personal. Your response of ‘operating system and software’ represents just your motivation. For me it is the design of the product and the Apple brand (but that’s just me). For my mum recently it was the price she could get at OfficeWorks (and that’s definitely my mum). Content and functionality as ypou point out do sell the machine to some people, but for others it’s recommendation, price, look and trust. There are a whole bunch of decision drivers, of which brand is an influencer of trust – an undeniably important aspect.
    As creators of brand we need to understand the bigger picture and larger trends driving behaviors.
    It would seem Intel’s new ad campaign has been part of their strategy to maintain and grow their leadership position at a time when the competition is faltering. The fact they’re memorable is about return on investment. Wheter that investment has been worthwhile would take a far clearer understanding of Intel’s balance sheet and business plan than I possess.
    As for Apple and its A4 chip? That will be an interesting space to watch – partly because Apple have a history of doing the unexpected. But from a purely brand perspective, Apple has built their market share and undeniable customer loyalty around design, intuitive user functionality and just ‘brand coolness’ rather than hardware speed. My guess is they may talk about ‘faster’, but we wont be seeing a change in Apple’s brand strategy to make the A4 chip the hero.

  8. t, that’s the unreasonable truth about brand, it has the ability to lift lesser-standard products into the premium position of a category, complete with premium margins (perhaps if only to spend on expensive ad campaigns).

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