Acer names CMO to lead rebranding amid dwindling marketshare

As part of an aggressive marketing revamp to counter its decreased marketshare, electronics manufacturer Acer announced on August 30 that Michael Birkin will be taking over as the company’s temporary CMO. Birkin, currently the chairman of the company’s branding agency Red Peak, will maintain both roles as he works more deeply with the Taiwan-based company.

Birkin is taking on the new position for a fixed period of time, though the specific length was not specified, as Red Peak works with Acer to revamp its brand identity. He will oversee all of Acer’s global marketing and advertising work, and will report directly to the company’s chairman and CEO Jeng-tang Wang. In assuming the role, Birkin will replace Walter Deppeler, who will become the chairman of a new marketing committee that will work to integrate the company’s brand and marketing strategy.

Red Peak has been working with Acer for the past year to help it reorganize its marketing and help it develop a new brand positioning, which will be launched in the near future, though no exact dates have been announced. This has included helping Acer to search for an ad agency, eventually partnering with London-based Mother in February, and working with the agency on the campaign for the Acer Aspire S5 Ultrabook.

The appointment of Birkin, who will be joined by several other marketers from Red Peak on his team, deepens the relationship between agency and client to a point where the two companies are almost indistinguishable.

“Our role over the next couple of years is to really turn them into [an organization with] world-class marketing,” says James Fox, CEO of Red Peak. “It’s a real privilege to work with a brand that’s so wholeheartedly embraced marketing.”

Birkin will continue to serve as chairman of Red Peak, though his primary focus will be Acer, according to Fox. He acknowledged that the arrangement is an unusual one, but that Birkin’s extensive experience in Asia, which included serving as chairman and CEO of Omnicom Asia Pacific, and CEO of Interbrand prior to that, makes him a valuable asset to Acer.

The reorganization comes as Acer tries to win back market share it lost to Hewlett-Packard (HP), Dell Inc., and the Lenovo Group, leaving it as the fourth-largest PC brand in the second quarter of the year, according to analyst firm IDC.

“In the product development stages, we will place marketing ahead of R&D and design,” Wang said in the statement about the appointment. “Our precise understanding of customers’ needs will lead the way in products and services development.”

Red Peak, which was founded two years ago, will be opening an office in Hong Kong at the beginning of 2013 and looking to do more in that region.

“We’ll be making sure that everything from retail to direct to above-the-line is working in harmony with each other,” Fox says. “We’re going to go through channel by channel trying to optimize everything that they do.”

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