Hewlett-Packard's chief showcases ad campaign at Vegas tech show

LAS VEGAS -- Chief executive Carly Fiorina showcased Hewlett-Packard Co.'s latest innovation at the Comdex tech conference Monday: Its biggest advertising campaign since merging with Compaq Computer Corp.

The ads began appearing in newspapers, Web sites and on television hours before her keynote address, which began and ended with videos of the new commercials.

Both the ads and Fiorina's speech focused not on new products but on HP's solutions for customers. It's an attempt to show that HP is more than a printer company that merged last spring with a computer company.

Each ad is based on the theme "+ hp everything is possible." One focuses on HP's role in space exploration. Others show how a combination of HP products help such customers as package courier FedEx and online retailer Amazon.com achieve goals.

HP did not disclose how much it is spending on the new campaign, though a spokeswoman characterized it as a multiyear investment of several hundred millions of dollars.

In her speech, Fiorina recalled that she promised to preserve the best of HP and "reinvent the rest" at a Comdex show three years ago. She said last spring's $19 billion merger with Compaq was the most public expression of that strategy.

"We return as a more complete partner for clients and customers," she said, adding that the merger has made HP a more complete company.

Not everyone was impressed by the ad campaign, which included 16-full-page ads in such major newspapers as The New York Times and Wall Street Journal.

Steve Milunovich, an analyst who follows HP, disliked the slogan because he thinks it doesn't differentiate HP from such competitors as IBM, which recently launched a more than $700 million campaign to market its new "on demand" computing services.

"Investors are already concerned that HP is trying to be everything to everybody, a trap IBM fell into though IBM has since narrowed its focus," he said in a research note before the ad campaign launched. "What does HP stand for?"

Fiorina only lightly touched on product announcements during her talk of more than an hour.

She showed off HP's new Tablet PC, a pen-based notebook computer that can be used much like a notepad of paper. She also showed a new iPaq handheld that uses a biometric sensor that reads a user's fingerprint to confirm identity.


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