RealTime IT News

Intel Kicks Off Big Wi-Fi Ad Push

Intel said on Monday that it would kick off an ad campaign potentially worth $300 million to promote the rollout of its new wireless Internet chip, Centrino, which the company is wagering will become its biggest product since the Pentium.

The "Unwire" ad campaign, designed by Euro RSCG MVBMS, begins with television spots running today through March 12, when Intel will officially roll out the Centrino, which links laptops to the Internet through 802.11 technology. The ads include the tagline "On March 12, Intel will not only change how you work, but where you work." Print, outdoor and online advertising will support the TV commercials subsequent to the official launch.

Intel plans to run the campaign in 11 countries worldwide, including the United Kingdom, France, Germany, South Korea and Australia.

Intel did not disclose the campaign's exact cost, but a spokesman said it would rival what the chipmaker spent when it rolled out the Pentium 4 microprocessor for desktop computers two years ago with a $300 million push.

Centrino features a new mobile processor and chipset that will enable laptops to wirelessly connect to the Internet. A key feature of Centrino is that it will give users extended battery life by consuming less power. An early Achilles' heel of 802.11 technology, commonly known as Wi-Fi, has been its voracious appetite for battery power.

Centrino represents a big bet by Intel on the future of Wi-Fi, which is still in its infancy but poised for dramatic growth.

Over 16 million people used WiFi in 2001, according to Allied Business Intelligence. The research company expects that number to increase to 60 million by 2006.

On March 12, the company will officially launch Centrino with a splashy event at New York City's Hammerstein Ballroom featuring a keynote by Intel CEO Craig Barrett and a concert by pop group Barenaked Ladies.

After the launch, Intel plans to rev up the campaign with a variety of media buys through June that target the business and technology communities. The TV spots are designed to show users accessing the Internet from unlikely places -- while on a diving board, riding in an airport "people mover," and on a golf course. An eight-page insert will run in newspapers, in addition to an online campaign.

To back up the ad blitz, Intel announced a deal with T-Mobile to jointly promote its hotspot service at 2,100 Starbucks and American Airlines Admirals clubs. T-Mobile plans to ramp up its network, adding hotspots in airports, Borders bookstores, and United and Delta lounges.

The two companies will jointly advertise the service in online ads and in T-Mobile signs that appear at hotspot locations.

Intel also inked a marketing deal with HOTSPOTZZ, another hotspot provider. The companies are also working on co-branding the signs at HOTSPOTZZ locations.

Despite an uncertain economic outlook, technology companies have pushed ahead with some sizeable advertising campaigns lately. In October, IBM began a $700 to $800 million ad blitz for its new "On-Demand" computing initiative. Rival HP followed suit a month later with a $400 million push to highlight the varied uses of its technology. Two weeks ago, Cisco began a $100 to $150 million campaign to promote its networked computing products.