Dell Ads to Focus on Human Side of Technology

Originally published July 4, 2011

By Ian Sherr

A new branding campaign from computer maker Dell Inc. takes a cue from Apple Inc.’s marketing playbook: It doesn’t talk about technology.

In one spot, a teenage girl talks about how she uses a Dell laptop to video chat with a boy she has a crush on. In another, a grandmother explains how she keeps in touch with her family using a Dell smartphone.

The campaign, dubbed “More You” and expected to begin Friday, is aimed at personalizing technology and marks a break in tradition for a company that got its start by commoditizing computers. Rather than focus on the specifications of products, Dell is hoping the campaign will encourage consumers to think about features and how they can be used.

“We realized it was important to connect more emotionally with customers,” said Paul-Henri Ferrand, who heads Dell’s consumer marketing efforts. “Most competitors are neglecting the fact that technology is empowering people’s lives.”

The Round Rock, Texas, company has been working to win more individual consumers—after relying heavily on corporate customers—and it wants to turn around a sagging image. Those efforts have begun to bear some fruit. The consumer sales unit turned a profit in the fiscal fourth quarter after struggling to control costs and entice customers. The growth continued in Dell’s most recent quarter, which ended April 29.

Dell’s reputation has fallen over the past three years and trails rivals Hewlett-Packard Co. and Apple in key areas such as perceived quality, reputation and overall satisfaction, according to BrandIndex, a daily tracking service. In recent months, however, Dell’s image has recovered slightly, a trend the Round Rock, Texas, company hopes the ad campaign will help to accelerate along with its larger corporate branding effort called “The Power To Do More,” launched last month.

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(Published July 5, 2011, in The Wall Street Journal.)