Digital Insider: Michael Mendenhall, CMO, Hewlett-Packard Co.

Michael Mendenhall, senior VP and CMO of HP, was the general chair for the 32nd John Caples International Awards show held in New York last week, which celebrates the best creative work in direct and digital marketing. Mendenhall has a history of steering innovative and creative marketing programs for major brands.

HP launched a new TV and online ad campaign this month, called “Let’s Do Amazing.” It is the first work created by 72andSunny, a recent addition to its agency roster. The episodic spots feature hip celebrities including Rhys Darby of HBO’s Flight of the Conchords, rapper and producer Dr. Dre and photographer Annie Leibowitz. They are designed to promote awareness of HP’s product line beyond printers in both traditional and online media channels. DMNews spoke with Mendenhall about creativity, particularly in digitally-focused marketing programs.

Q. You told DMNews that HP has moved 40% of its overall ad budget to the digital space. How can marketers maintain creative standards in the online realm?

A. First, our investment in digital messaging enables us to interact with customers in a variety of environments. At HP we have to be flexible enough to adapt our creative and messaging to fit those environments. Second, the online space is more than just tracking ROI, although ROI is an important element to HP.  It’s also about measuring brand perception and strength of messaging and how well we connected with the online audience. Through online, we can both broaden the scope of what we can affect, as well as target specific audiences with relevant content. Creative plays a huge role in both. 

Q. What is HP’s approach to creativity in marketing programs?

A. Creativity is what separates you from the competition and makes a lasting impression on the audience. For HP, creativity is not only central to our marketing campaigns, but to all of our go-to-market activities, from the latest HP TouchSmart and Slate PCs to social innovation programs like Create Change that tap into the power of social media. Generally, we know that we need to include our audience in a very active way, and that’s why we think our new campaign, Let’s Do Amazing, is the right idea for right now. The focus of the idea is on what we’re doing with and for our customers. And as this continues to roll out, you’ll see more ways that we’ll activate this idea creatively across media, social and engagement platforms.

Q. Award-winning creative stands out.  What is HP’s strategy with its partner agencies 72 and Sunny, McGarry Bowen and BBDO to rise above the competition?

A. We have a great agency roster, including BBDO, 72 and Sunny, McGarry Bowen, R/GA and Goodby, Silverstein. In every case, we push hard for the best work and don’t accept compromise. But at the core of our strategy is collaboration: we’re in this with our agency partners to produce excellent work, and we find that the best agency partnerships are based on chemistry and the ability to work closer together than traditional agency/client relationships.

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