Intel sinks 'hundreds of millions' of dollars into Ultrabook ad campaign

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In an effort to get the Ultrabook thin-and-light PC platform off the ground, Intel has kickstarted an ambitious campaign that will cover TV, print and online ads in what the company calls “A New Era in Computing.”

The first TV spot of what will presumably be a veritable onslaught of commercials was unveiled on Intel's Twitter page on Wednesday as part of the expansive campaign that some are calling the company's largest since its 2003 Centrino push, reports The Wall Street Journal.

"Desperado" plays on the "old-fashioned" world of mobile PC computing, with the ad exuding the polish of a high-cost production.

In the commercial, a pair of rustlers sitting in a wild west saloon bemoan their "laptops," which look like antiques from the early 1990's. After a waitress quips that "y'all need to put that thing out of its misery," a young man evoking Michael J. Fox's character in "Back to the Future Part III" walks in and opens his MacBook Air lookalike Ultrabook which immediately starts up. The grizzled old-timers are offended by the newcomer's brazen actions and engage in a high-noon-duel-inspired standoff.

Short of revealing the payoff, the cowboys turn out to be cowpokes and the ad ends with "Ultrabook, inspired by Intel." The new tag is a play on the company's ubiquitous "powered by Intel" catchphrase used in all of its ads up to this point.

Intel won't divulge how much money it has set aside for the ad blitz besides saying the figure is in the "hundreds of millions."

San Francisco advertising firm Venables Bell & Partners is in charge of the campaign, and commercials were shot on film and on location to convey a more film-like quality.

The second and third TV spots are said to follow the "old-fashioned" theme and are set in Ming dynasty China and a medieval castle. During mid-April, Intel will be dedicating a portion of its website to an interactive online ad that utilizes unused footage from the TV commercials to form a type of "choose your own adventure" experience.

As part of the campaign, the chip maker is attempting to overcome the possible misconception that an Ultrabook is merely a more powerful version of the low-cost netbook, a platform also backed by Intel when it was first introduced. The new Ultrabook platform is taking direct aim at the demographic currently served by Apple's MacBook Air, which uses the company's Core i5 and i7 processors.

With the new product category, Intel is trying to walk a line between full-fledged laptops and mobile devices like tablets which some see as harbingers of death for the PC.

“There’s a lot of people talking about the ‘post-PC era,’ or the end of the PC,” says Kevin Sellers, Intel’s vice president of sales and marketing and director of advertising and digital marketing. “We don’t view it that way.”

In a report earlier this week, two Intel representatives outlined how the Ultrabook platform outperforms both the MacBook Air and the iPad by being the best of both worlds. Devices are set to be offered from a variety of manufacturers like Lenovo and Asus, with arrival dates coming before the end of 2012.

The campaign is primed to kick off in the U.S. with the April 6 airing of "Desperado."


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