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PC rivals band together in US$70 million ad effort to convince consumers they need a new machine

Gregg Keizer | Oct. 19, 2015
Dell, HP and Lenovo join Intel and Microsoft in push to shave replacement cycle.

PC Does What ad
In the ad, "Trampoline," a gymnastics coach uses an HP Spectre X360 and flips the screen around 360 degrees, mimicking the flipping athletes. 

Microsoft, Intel and the world's three largest computer makers -- Dell, HP and Lenovo -- have banded together for the first time in a joint marketing campaign to convince consumers they should replace their aged personal computers with new systems.

The campaign relies on the tagline "PC Does What?" and will launch today with television, print, Web and social advertisements, along with "native" ads, a new term for the old-school label "advertorial." Native advertising is specially-designed digital content that looks nothing like a traditional ad but is more akin to a news story or blog, and is created or commissioned.

PC Does What? will run for six weeks.

According to Advertising Age, the campaign has a $70 million budget. The companies will limit the campaign to the U.S. and China, which account for more than half of the global PC market.

The gist of the campaign is that consumers who have older PCs -- those bought four or five years ago -- have no idea what a new machine can do. "We want to let them know how much better today's PCs are than the PCs they're using," said Steven Fund, Intel's chief marketing officer, in a live-streamed presentation where the head marketing executives of all five firms appeared.

"Millions of people are still using outdated systems," echoed Karen Quintos, Dell's chief marketing officer, in a statement. "For consumers and business users alike, entirely new benefits and features come standard in the latest devices. Now is the perfect time to experience what you've been missing."

Interestingly, the host of Thursday's presentation, Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, posed a viewer-submitted question to the marketing execs that appeared to be a preemptive strike against doubters.

"Some pundits may say this showing is the last gasp of the PC industry," Moorhead said, reading a question which spoke to the long-running theme that the personal computer is now a dead end.

"I say that an industry that sells a couple of hundred million PCs a year is not a dying industry," retorted Quintos.

What Quintos did not say was that her industry once sold considerably more PCs than that. According to IDC, OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) like the three banding together for PC Does What? shipped about 375 million PCs in 2011, the most ever. For 2015, IDC recently forecast shipments of 282 million -- a 25% decline in four years -- with zero growth through 2018.


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