The world’s top three PC makers are joining with Intel and Microsoft in a six-week, $70 million advertising campaign designed to boost sales in what has been a declining market over the past three-plus years.
In an unusual demonstration of solidarity that highlights the frustration they’ve felt as worldwide PC shipments have fallen since 2011 and the confidence they have in the new systems coming to market, Lenovo, Hewlett-Packard and Dell are working together on the campaign with the tagline “PC Does What?”
The joint campaign—which will hit television, digital and social outlets as well as native advertising when it launches in the United States and China Oct. 19—is aimed at highlighting the new form factors and features in new and upcoming systems that will be powered by Intel’s latest 6th generation Core “Skylake” processors and run Microsoft’s new Windows 10 operating system. The combination of the new OS, processors and system form factors coming at the same time is unique, according to Steven Fund, chief marketing officer for Intel.
“It’s a time unlike any other in our industry,” Fund said Oct. 15 during a streamed panel discussion that included his counterparts at the other four vendors.
The decline in PC shipments worldwide has been blamed primarily on the rise of mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, as consumers and business users redirected their technology dollars away from PCs and lengthened the lifespan of their systems. At the same time, PC vendors and component makers were slow to respond to the threat, failing to come out with new form factors and technologies that could entice users to come back.
The result is that there are some 500 million PCs being used today that are four to five years old. The officials with the tech companies said that many of these consumers and business users are so used to their PCs—and PCs are so ubiquitous that they probably don’t pay much attention to them anymore—that they don’t understand how much better the newer systems are. The joint ad campaign is designed to catch their attention and educate them about the new PCs.
“We’re victims of our own success,” said David Roman, Lenovo’s chief marketing officer.
Officials with the companies are expecting that the combination of new features in Windows 10, new capabilities in the Skylake chips and new PC designs at prices in the $500 to $700 area will convince users to buy new systems. Windows features include Cortana, a voice-enabled digital assistant, and Hello face recognition technology.
Intel officials have called the 14-nanometer Skylake processors the best chips in the company’s history. Systems with the chips will offer up to 2.5 times the performance, triple the battery life and 30 times better graphics performance than PCs that are five years old, they have said. They also offer form factors that are half as thin and half the weight, wake up faster and have all-day battery life. Those form factors also include two-in-ones and convertibles, which can be used as either a traditional PC or a tablet.
Power efficiency in the systems also will be about 40 percent better, according to Karen Quintos, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Dell.
HP, Lenovo, Dell Unite in $70 Million PC Ad Campaign
Those are the types of benefits the vendors hope to highlight with the new ad campaign, which has been in the works since June. The vendors are focusing on the United States and China because those two regions account for more than half of all PC sales, Intel’s Fund said.
The goal is to run the campaign into the Thanksgiving timeframe, hopefully stirring up buyers’ interest as during the holiday shopping season. The companies—which are more accustomed to competing fiercely with each other than working together—also will continue to individually advertise their own products.
It won’t be easy. The decline in the global PC market has been fairly steady, except for a temporary slowing last year when Microsoft ended support for the aging Windows XP operating system, forcing a large refresh by business users. In the latest quarter, shipments worldwide fell between 7.7 percent and 10.8 percent, according to analysts from Gartner and IDC.
Analysts expect the combination of Windows 10 and the Skylake chips eventually will lead to a turnaround in the industry, with shipments increasing, but that probably won’t come until later next year. Until then, the work will be around getting systems onto the market and ramping sales.
That said, some of the company officials pushed back at the idea that the PC market is in a death spiral.
“An industry that sells a couple million PCs a year is not a dying industry,” Quintos said. “The role of the PC is so fundamental. … It’s time to highlight that to customers.”
Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst with Moor Insights and Strategy and the moderator of the streamed panel discussion, said he has been impressed with capabilities and features in the new systems.
“The PC … is dramatically different than what it was,” Moorhead said.