To demonstrate the excitement of its new campaign, Hewlett-Packard hosted a gala announcement event in San Francisco on November 11, 1997. At the kickoff event Hewlett-Packard chairman Platt described the company’s image as ‘‘a lab coat that was empty.’’ The company had excelled at engineering prowess but never at savvy self-promotion. The new campaign aimed to add to the company’s strengths a new spirit of excitement, creativity, and innovation. Along with the new advertising, Hewlett-Packard introduced new product packaging, in-store merchandising, and vending machines for its ink-jet printer supplies.
The introduction of the ‘‘Expanding Possibilities’’ campaign meant dropping Goodby, Silverstein & Partners’ award-winning campaign that used the tag line ‘‘Built by engineers. Used by normal people.’’ One reason for the switch was to dispel the notion that the company was dominated by engineers. ‘‘The consumer brand strategy and advertising campaign aim to make the HP brand more relevant to consumers by revealing the company’s dynamic side and dispelling the idea that HP is only a printer company,’’ said the firm’s Antonio Perez. ‘‘People used to say HP was a great stealth marketer,’’ said Jill Kramer, the company’s marketing communications manager, in Adweek. ‘‘There’s been growing recognition with HP that our brand is truly an asset and that is something we should be investing in. We are becoming more visible and more aggressive.’’ Part of the reason for a move toward consumers was the rapid pace of change. With technology and products evolving so quickly, consumers were easily confused and often felt behind the times. Executives at Hewlett-Packard felt that a finely honed brand identity might attract consumers looking for a guide through the digital and technology jungle. In addition, the company recognized that the market for traditional business products was expanding to include in-home and consumer use. Lower-cost, higher-quality printers, scanners, and all-inone machines made the products attractive outside the typical corporate or business setting. The campaign also called attention to Hewlett-Packard’s Internet products, something it had been producing for years but had never promoted to the public.
Hewlett-Packard sometimes referred to the new campaign as ‘‘the real life campaign’’ because the strategy was to shine the spotlight on people not usually associated with technology. Grandparents and children were highlighted, and they shared their stories in their own words. The intent was not just to show what people could do with Hewlett-Packard products but also to demonstrate what the products could help people achieve. Hewlett-Packard products were presented as engines for consumers’ creative thinking. Although Hewlett-Packard wanted to change its image with the ‘‘Expanding Possibilities’’ campaign, there were certain elements in its marketing effort and image that were retained. The company logo and the display of the Hewlett-Packard name with the logo remained the same. The company also maintained continuity with its advertising agencies. Goodby, Silverstein & Partners continued handling the ads for Hewlett-Packard printers and scanners and for the company’s other computer equipment. Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising continued the advertising for the company’s Pavilion line of personal computers, and Winkler Advertising continued to create the company’s ads for laser printer supplies.