Feb. 9 (Bloomberg) -- Hewlett-Packard Co., the world’s largest personal-computer supplier, kicked off a multihundred-million-dollar advertising campaign to show it can market its products with as much panache as Apple Inc.
The global ad campaign, built around the tag line “everybody on,” shows that HP computers and software can keep people connected to information -- and each other -- no matter where they are, said Page Murray, a marketing vice president in HP’s personal systems group.
HP is trying to set its range of computing products apart from Apple’s Macs, iPhones and iPads. The new marketing campaign reflects that mobile devices are supplanting PCs as the center of users’ technology universe, Murray said in an interview. Five years ago, HP’s ads declaring “the computer is personal again” were meant to position the company’s computers as more customizable, with bolder designs than the beige-and-black, boxy machines that had come to typify desktop PCs.
“The tag line, ‘the computer is personal again,’ seems a little dated,” Murray said. The new ads, which began on the Internet today and move to TV this weekend, coincide with today’s introduction of HP tablet computers and smartphones running the WebOS software. It acquired that technology with the purchase of Palm Inc. last year.
The ads, which will also appear in print, were created by Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, based in San Francisco. They show computer users engaging in far-flung activities: students video-chat from a dorm room in Tokyo; a group of friends use an HP tablet from a cafe in Marrakesh, Morocco; a businesswoman in Cape Town, South Africa, sends her boss and her son photos from a building site.
The “everybody on” campaign will exceed the cost of the “personal again” ads, which began running in 2006 and had a price tag in the hundreds of millions of dollars, according to Palo Alto, California-based HP.
It may now be tougher for HP to create a unified brand image for its diverse collection of technology products, said Tim Bajarin, president of consulting firm Creative Strategies Inc., who was briefed on the campaign. Its lineup spans PCs, tablets, smartphones, printers, servers and networking gear.
The “everybody on” theme also is vaguer than HP’s previous approach, he said.
“Even though the term ‘the computer is personal’ went across desktops and laptops, it was pointing to a place where everyone was going to have their own PC,” Bajarin said. “Now, it’s no longer just ‘the PC is personal,’ but ‘everything is going digital, and HP has got products to meet whatever your digital needs are.’ It makes sense when it’s explained that way, but is hard to explain in a tag line and 60 seconds.”
HP isn’t the first company to try to set itself apart from Apple’s devices. Microsoft Corp. two years ago ran TV spots featuring shoppers opting for Windows machines over Mac computers. They followed a less successful ad for Windows featured Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld trading asides about churros and shoes.
Other technology companies are also ramping up advertising. Salesforce.com, the largest seller of online customer-relationship management software, ran its first TV ads during Sunday’s Super Bowl. The company declined to say how much it spent.
The first HP TV ads with the “everybody on” theme will air on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” this week and during the Grammy Awards on CBS Feb. 13. The spots feature songs from Lou Reed and his band the Velvet Underground, and singer Alicia Keys. The music also includes spoken lines such as “everybody tap,” “everybody app” and “everybody CMYK,” a reference to the cyan, magenta, yellow and black inks used by graphics designers and professional printers.
The lingo “will probably be appreciated by about 4 percent of people in America,” HP’s Murray said.
Hewlett-Packard rose 80 cents to $48.94 at 4 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The shares fell 18 percent last year.
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