A while back, I went to the Embedded Systems Conference, in Boston. My company, Screaming Circuits, exhibited there. It's a great show for us and always a lot of fun. Pretty much all engineers with a minimum of marketing geeks like myself.
I ran across an example of what must have seemed like a great idea to some executive deep in the cubicle morass that is his company. This exec is probably one of those weekday-blue suits/weekend Harley guys. Over his spit-shined desk, it must have seemed like a great idea. The marketing guys tasked with implementing the idea may have gotten caught up in the hype of the times or may have rolled their eyes and dryly intoned "yes, Master."
I ran across a similar missed message just a few weeks prior at the Mt. Angel, Oregon, Oktoberfest. The designated driver in our group - not drinking - won one of the designated driver contests the festival was holding. The prize was a very nice sweatshirt with the Oktoberfest logo on the back. On the front, was the slogan: "Wanna come home with me tonight?"
Cute. But, Think about it for a minute. That's what all the slobbering drunk guys want to see. It is not what a sober person wants to be saying to all of those slobbering drunk folks. It's a cute and funny idea but it completely misses the mark in terms of who the message is supposed to be targeted at and what the message should be. A much better slogan might have been "Back off dude. I'm sober so I can see your enormous beer gut" or "You stink. Ride in the back seat and paws off."
Back to the Embedded Systems Conference. Intel has a promotional arrangement with Orange County Choppers. The OC guys built an incredibly cool custom chopper which Intel shows in it's booth at the conference. Sure - it implies power and flash. I'm not sure what it does to support any green image that Intel might have, but who knows. This audience may not care so much about that.
What really stopped me was the endorsement photos. There's Mikey with the headline "Performance":
And Paul Sr. called out for "Dependability."
Mikey is cool. Everyone likes Mikey. But... But, Mikey is not a performance kind of guy. Anyone who's watched the show knows that he's the underachiever of the bunch. He doesn't do a lot of work. Mostly he's relegated to delivery and clean up tasks. He moves slow and doesn't seem to care much about getting anything done.
Paul Sr. may be a little closer to the mark with "Dependability." He is pretty adamant about meeting delivery schedules. But he doesn't do much other than yell and swear to affect dependable achievement of those delivery goals. If he does come out to get his hands dirty, it's usually just to grab a big hammer and wail on something. After he leaves the room the rest of the crew comments about how his tactics hurt more than they help.
All those things Paul Sr. and Mikey do are part of their charm and make for great entertainment, but, in my opinion, don't at all speak to dependability, performance or any of the other qualities that make Intel great.
I can almost picture the conversation. The exec insisting that this is a great idea acts a lot like Paul Sr. When he leaves the room, all of the marketing grunts complain amongst themselves about how bad of an idea this is and the guy isn't helping. But they grudgingly make it so. Again, very cool chopper, but it completely misses the mark in terms of who the message is supposed to be targeted at and what the message should be.