Long known as a reliable but predictable maker of computer printers, Hewlett-Packard Company (HP) was, in 2003, engaged in a recasting of its moribund image, a project initiated by HP’s chief executive officer, Carly Fiorina, after a divisive 2002 merger with computer company Compaq. That year HP unveiled its most ambitious consumer advertising campaign ever. The new campaign, called ‘‘You + HP,’’ featured HP’s digital cameras and imaging products, a segment of the Fortune 100 company’s operations that was seen as a major growth opportunity.
‘‘You + HP’’ supplemented an ongoing enterprise campaign that had introduced the ‘‘+’’ graphic as a means of showcasing HP’s partnerships with other companies and institutions and that further positioned the old-line company as a forward-looking, glamorous company in tune with twenty-first-century lifestyles. Developed by HP’s main U.S. advertising agency, Goodby, Silverstein & Partners of San Francisco, the campaign broke in October 2003 with the risky use of 20-page print inserts, first in USA Today and later in trendsetting magazines, and went on to feature some of the most talked-about television spots of the time. Directed by Franc¸ois Vogel, the television spots dramatized the digital-photography revolution with visuals integrating still frames and live action, while catchy pop music by the Cure (in the campaign’s first year) and the Kinks (in the second year) played as the spots’ sound track.
The print and television portions of ‘‘You + HP’’ were well received by industry commentators as well as the general public, and the campaign was credited with effectively updating HP’s image for a new generation of consumers. The campaign continued to evolve, and the company’s broader marketing efforts kept the ‘‘+ HP’’ idea as their starting point. HP’s change in direction, however, was not welcomed by all; the company’s board of directors ousted Fiorina in 2005.