Intel - The Component Branding Saga

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Case Details:

Case Code : MKTG038
Case Length : 13 Pages
Period : 1997 - 2002
Pub Date : 2002
Teaching Note : Available
Organization : Intel
Industry : OEM
Countries : India

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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"What Microsoft is to software, Intel is to hardware: a marketing and technology monster that is seemingly unstoppable."

- A Houston Chronicle News Article, in 1997.

Dancing its Way Towards Leadership

What could a computer hardware company manufacturing microprocessors possibly have in common with disco dancing? A lot, if one goes by an advertisement campaign released by the world's largest microprocessor company, the California-based Intel Corporation (Intel), in 1997.

The television (TV) commercials designed to promote Intel's MMX technology featured people (referred to as 'bunny people' by the company) dressed in silvery astronaut suits dancing to a pop song, Stayin' Alive1 (Refer Exhibit I). One of the highlights of the campaign was Company Chief Executive Craig Barrett (Barrett) going on stage, accompanying the song with tambourine!

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It was even reported that 'the BeeGees classic now sounded more like the theme song to Barrett's efforts to restore Intel's glory days.' Posters for the campaign depicted a rainbow emerging from the Intel MMX logo, giving it a colorful, shiny look. The catchy and unusual campaign reportedly went on to become one of the most well remembered ones from Intel.

For the company, it was yet another step towards becoming the 'only' brand one could think of when it came to microprocessors. Intel had to its credit the distinction of single-handedly transforming the microprocessor market over the years. The company had begun operations in days when people were not very aware of the term microprocessor and its significance for the computers they were buying (Refer Exhibit II for a note on microprocessors).

Even those consumers who were somewhat computer-savvy did not know much about them. But by the early 21st century, customers all over the world were able to recite their processor specifications like a nursery rhyme.

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1] The song, sung by the US-based pop music group Beegees, was very popular all over the world, and was featured in the successful Hollywood movie Saturday Night Fever.


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