Be Bold

AMDZone has what it even calls an “almost mythical” AMD TV commercial. You can download it here.

I am underwhelmed. I mean, it’s OK enough, but it’s hardly memorable.

True, Intel ads usually aren’t either (and when they try to be, like with the Blue Men, they come off being just weird), but when you can run eight zillion of them, sooner or later the ding-dongs crawl into your brain.

Over the years, even those well-disposed to AMD have complained that their presence in the media has been pretty much vaporware.

This has always needed to change, but now that AMD has sued Intel for keeping it down, a radical change in approach is really imperative.

The reason is simple. AMD is going to be claiming that it doesn’t get the market share it deserves because Intel is keeping it down. Intel is going to respond with every possible other reason why this is not why AMD doesn’t sell all that much.

Number One Argument is going to be, “We advertise, a lot. AMD doesn’t. What else can you expect?”

Time For A Green Ding-Dong

A key element in Intel’s marketing is helping PC manufacturers pay the TV bills by paying for a portion of the TV ads in return for that Intel ding-dong.

That’s a smart move. It gets Intel mentioned in many more ads than they’d have going alone. People buy computers, not CPUs, so it gets Intel into the real buying decision. Finally, it’s nicely subliminal. No hard Intel sell, it’s just a normal part of the package.

Why can’t AMD do the same thing? They do whatever Intel does for so many other things, why not something like this? If you can’t spend a whole lot of money on separate TV ads, why not piggyback on someone else’s? At worst, if OEMS won’t do it because they’re terrified that Intel will cut them off, that’s just more fuel for the lawsuit fire.

Granted, having three ads rather than one isn’t going to solve AMD’s TV media problems. It’s just a start, but until AMD can toss serious money at TV, you have to try to get the most bang for the buck.

For the average person, AMD is at best vaguely known. That’s an advantage and a disadvantage. It’s bad because no one knows who you are. It’s good because they don’t have any preconceived notions of you before you show up to tell them.

I’ve used two terms so far in this piece: “Bang for the buck” and “memorable.” Those would seem to be the core principles that should be behind any AMD campaign.

I’m sorry, but running a Lance Armstrong commercial on an obscure cable channel in the hopes of getting the attention of the six fitness-obsessed executives with the time to watch the Tour de France doesn’t cut it.

What AMD Really Needs: Green Guerilla Marketing

Outside of mere technical adjustments to an advertising strategy like the Green Ding-Dong mentioned above, the one thing AMD can’t do is play “Me, too.” If you play the same advertising game as Intel, and they have umpteen times more money then you, you lose.

AMD must present an image and advertise it in ways as different from Intel as possible. They must become, dare I say it, cool, and I don’t mean the CEO holding a guitar in the vicinity of a washed-up rocker.

You don’t have millions to spend for TV time? Who needs TV when you have the Internet? Make ads, lots of them, and provide them for download on the Internet. It works for Jib=Jab. Hell, what would you rather see, a Lance Armstrong AMD ad, or a Jib-Jab AMD ad?

With an Internet strategy, AMD will have to get away from middle-aged fart kind of ads. AMD needs ads so good people are going to want to volunteer to see them. That means they have to be very smart, very funny, and very outrageous.

Your product is better than Intel? Well then, make fun of Intel (and for bonus points, make a little fun of yourself, too, people will really find that cool). Imagine a cartoon doing that with a song like “Intel Sucks” in the background.

A very sizable chunk of the Internet audience is quite attuned to a rebellious underdog fighting underground against big evil corporate interests. After all, that’s the core plot for half the movies and TV shows they keep seeing. If AMD can’t figure out how to play that angle to their advantage, those who can’t shouldn’t be fired, they should shot on the grounds of gross ineptitude.

This need not even cost a lot of money; I’m sure there would be plenty of volunteers who’d love to put something together. Take the best ads and concepts in those ads, and use those. If you make it a cooperative venture, something people can buy into and feel a part of, so much the better.

Do what it takes to get the mainstream media’s attention, that way you get a self-reinforcing cycle of downloads causing (free) media comment, which increases the downloading to sections of the audience you’d otherwise not get.

If the media critics are a little slow on the trigger, put the best ads on when they’ll be sure to see them: in America, the Super Bowl. Yes, it’s expensive, but how much free buzz did Apple get from one 1984 Macintosh Super Bowl ad?

If you’re memorable, you don’t need a lot of money, and you’ll get the bang for the buck.

Some might say that Apple has long had great ads, but lousy sales. Well, AMD can become the Mac that doesn’t cost a lot more than the other guy.

The best part about the proper kind of guerilla campaign is that this won’t be a place Intel can follow. If AMD is brash, even a bit undignified, Intel is going to have real problems copying that, and remember, anything they do in response will go against an established media image.

Will Dignity Rule Out Success?

AMD’s going to be chucking the dice anyway financially, so why not be bold here, too? What do you have to lose? To recycle somebody else’s ad slogan: why not Think Different?

Unfortunately, I’m afraid AMD’s thinking is 180 degrees out of phase with this, and I think the main reason is the guy on top.

From all I’ve seen the last few years, I’ve gotten the distinct impression Mr. Ruiz doesn’t like to sell to individual people. When he was at Motorola making PowerPCs, he had one customer: Apple. If you look at his priorities at AMD, the emphasis is to sell to a handful of big OEMs and big corporations. That’s what the Lance Armstrong commercial boils down to: an old fart wants to sell to a handful of important old farts.

There’s nothing wrong with that, but like it or not, big OEMs and corporations don’t use computers, people do, and it certainly wouldn’t hurt to have the people using the computers to want to have AMD machines.

Dell manages to be staid enough to get corporate sales, but racy enough to get Joe Sixpacks buying, I don’t see why AMD can’t do that, too.

A top-down strategy is necessary, but not sufficent. If you want to sizably increase your marketshare, you need a bottoms-up strategy, too.

P.S. It may seem to some that I’m really knocking Lance Armstrong here, but I’m not. The problem isn’t him, it’s how he’s being used in the ad. If Lance Armstrong were presented in the ad as a feisty underdog who overcame great outside and personal obstacles to become a champ, that would be good.


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