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Dell, Where is the Beginning? Essay


This paper mainly provides an overview and evaluation of Dell’s most recent marketing and communication campaigns since the company completed its go-private transaction on October 29, 2013 (“Dell completes go-private,” 2013). Specifically, the “Dell Beginnings” campaign and the Dell “Learning Meets Doing” campaign are going to be analyzed in this article. Guided by the framework of the four types of integrations, this paper has found that both campaigns have generally achieved the consistency across execution, across media and have put efforts into the connection across media and blending of content. The two campaigns themselves, however, are not very much integrated with each other. This would possibly lead to some confusion among the general audience about its brand identity. Therefore, it is suggested that apart from improving the level of integration within a campaign, it’s also important to creative consistency among various campaigns that are running together.


My search strategy began with a Google keyword search of “Dell”, “Dell campaign”, and “Dell advertisement”, which generated a lot of related search results including Dell’s official website, Facebook page, Twitter, Google+, YouTube channel, Tumblr, Instagram, Flickr and some recent news articles regarding Dell’s marketing and advertising campaigns. An overview of these websites and news articles were given in the initial round of search, with particular attention paying to the editorial articles describing and commenting on Dell’s campaigns. Some related electronic resources could also be generated from USC Communication Studies library, which further complemented the initial search results.

For example, Coloribus creative advertising archive provides a rather complete and current collection of Dell’s latest advertising campaigns, especially the TV, cinema and online commercials. Google image search were also used, but the results seemed not to be as informative as those found on its official Tumblr account and Instagram. The Google keyword search strategy was used throughout the whole search process, which led to more results every time with more precise descriptions typed. The selection of the two campaigns for analysis was based on the frequency of occurrences of certain campaign-related materials and the approximate number of news reports on the campaigns found in the search process.


Dell has been running its “The Power to Do More” campaign since 2010. Until now, Dell is still using this tagline on its official website. Previously, the campaign had been more consumer-oriented. Since the buyout, Dell, along with its marketing campaigns, has been seeking to go back to its B-to-B roots. Also, Dell is now actively rebranding itself from a desktops and laptops seller to also a software and service provider, while still maintaining its advantage in the PC market (McDermott, 2013). These goals and strategic changes are the important premise for Dell’s current marketing and communication campaigns.

Dell Beginnings Campaign

The most discussed and most praised Dell campaign recently is its “Dell Beginnings” brand campaign, which is an extension of its “Power to Do More” campaign. Developed by Y&R New York and VML New York, this campaign officially kicked off on New Year’s Eve 2013 with a 60-second cornerstone TV commercial, which is the most important part of the “Dell Beginnings” campaign. The TV spot premiered nationwide on “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve With Ryan Seacrest” on ABC (Feloni, 2013), spotlighting Dell’s “humble beginnings” and entrepreneurial spirit, as well as celebrating and showcasing some of its most well-known corporate partners and customers of Dell business solutions, such as TripAdvisor, Skype, Dropbox, Whole Foods, and Gilt. Along with the main TV commercials, Dell has also released the print, digital and OOH ads with similar features nationwide. Dell “Learning Meets Doing” Campaign

The other most recent campaign of Dell is its YouTube “Learning Meets Doing” campaign for its new Dell Venue 8 tablet and 2-in-1 PC. This campaign is in partnership with Defy Media, featuring the musical duo Sam Tsui and Kurt Hugo Schneider, and pranksters SMOSH through their own YouTube channels. Tsui and Scheider collaborated in a new Dell-sponsored music video using Dell products, while SMOSH went on a road trip to San Francisco with the help of Dell Venue 8 tablet.


Dell Beginnings: back to B2B with and a focus on Dell services and solutions In the “Dell Beginnings” campaign, the major intended target audiences are the business customers, especially small businesses for Dell services and solutions. Unlike Dell’s old campaigns that were focusing on the products, this campaign aims to convey a message that Dell is in the transition from a hardware seller to a services and solutions provider with entrepreneurial spirit, especially after its go-private move. Therefore, the general goal of the marketing communications would be to rebrand Dell’s company image, promote Dell’s services and solutions, and ultimately attract more business customers. Overall, this campaign has achieved good integrations in all four aspects.

Consistency across executions

In terms of consistency across executions, it is difficult to evaluate “Dell Beginnings” TV commercial since there is only one TV spot for this campaign. Then, if we look at the elements within the one TV commercial itself, the several small stories of the companies from a humble beginning to success, then it has created consistency in its overall look, sound and feel — the warm color scheme, relaxing folk music, shabby places but lights through the window and the feel of hope. This is also true for its official website for this campaign — the design and the messaging of hope offer an integrated feel on its own.

Consistency across media

For the “Beginnings” campaign, it has achieved great integration across media, from its TV commercial, official “the power to do more” website, to its print and OOH display. The font used in the TV spot, the website and the print ad is the same type; one of the background image on the website is the same to the ending picture of the TV commercial; the visual representation on the TV commercial (small pizza place, bedroom, dusty basement, old dining room table, bus seat, and little dorm room) mainly depicts the arduous beginning of the companies, while the website mainly features airplanes, beautiful women, flowers, mobile phones and other pictures that are depicting the current business and services these companies are providing after they thrive. The smooth transitions in both the visual and the messaging gives audience consistent feel of communications across media.

Connecting across media

The Dell Beginnings campaign has generally achieved seamless connections across media. The website link is provided at the end of the TV commercial, which allows views to explore more about the partnerships and the stories behind Dell and its customers. On the website, there is a link to watch the “Beginnings” ad, and links to company-specific websites, YouTube videos, Dell’s official site and options to share the link to many different social media platforms and to follow Dell through channels including Facebook, twitter, emails, LinkedIn and Instagram. The YouTube video easily links to its Google+ page, and Google+ provides a long list of links to Dell’s twitter, Facebook, Flicker, Picasa, Slideshare, Linkedin, blog and website. Through this kind of connections, audiences are led to explore many aspects of Dell, from its products to its culture.

Blending content across media

As for this type of integration, this campaign seems not to have put that much effort into blending content across media, especially for consumer-generated content. Yet one example that could possibility fit in this category is @MichaelDell’s tweet back in September 2013: “Welcome to the world’s largest startup!” This tweet echoes with the spirit that is presented in the whole “Beginnings” campaign, and could to some degree count as the blending content across media. As stated above, overall this “Beginning” campaign has achieved good level of integration and is heading towards the right direction that would probably be helpful to reach its goal of the expansion of business-to-business market. However, it has not done enough, especially in the blending content across media.

This is probably due to the original B2B-oriented intention of this campaign, which doesn’t concern that much about the B2C content. Thus, overall, Dell’s “Beginning” campaign is well integrated across execution, across media, and can make seamless connection across media. Learning Meets Doing: PCs and tablets can be creative and fun This “Learning Meets Doing” campaign of Dell is aiming at attracting teens and college kids to purchase Dell products when they head back to school this fall. Also, according to an interview with Lorrie Schultz, director of Dell’s North America consumer marketing, the goal of this campaign of Dell was to “develop a large digital following for its products, using the slogan ‘where learning meets doing’” (Castillo, 2014).

The four types of integration will be analyzed in the following sections. Consistency across executions

This campaign consist of two YouTube videos that are under the personal YouTube channels of Consistency across media.On Dell’s tumblr page, there is a banner with the big title “Learning Meets Doing”, surrounding by pictures of young people using Dell products while chatting, taking pictures and browsing webpages. This banner is also used by Dell’s official Facebook page. This creates a certain degree of integration for the whole campaign.

Connecting across media

Under the YouTube videos, there is a small section of the description for the video, where there is a link to Dell’s tumblr page with fun pictures of Dell’s products and previous advertisements. From its Tumblr page, one can easily find the link to Dell’s official site to purchase the product, and follow Dell on Facebook, twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest. Therefore, overall there is a good connection across media for this campaign.

Blending content across media

I believe the whole YouTube sponsor campaign itself is a creative blending of content across media, especially through the collaboration with Youtube celebrities. In addition, on the Dell tumblr page, there are also many pictures and GIFs that are blending cartoons, fun facts, quotes, and pictures of Dell products used by mostly young people. As analyzed above, since this campaign is only targeting at young customers, overall it has done a relatively satisfying job. However, it is evident through the comments on YouTube, that many people are feeling annoyed by Dell for this kind of sponsored ads. The strength of the marketing communication would be the integration of YouTube, tumblr and Facebook, which most young people are using, and the creation of an overall feel of youthfulness and energy.

However, the downside is that audience may renounce or ignore the messaging in the YouTube videos. What’s more important, the overall tone, image, sound, and feel of this “Learning Meets Doing” do not fit in for Dell’s brand identity of being more serious and business-oriented. This is probably unavoidable since Dell has so many product lines. Yet it would have been better if Dell could at least use more consistent colors (blue and white) in its campaigns and try to find connections among its various products lines. Therefore, it is worth asking Dell: Where the beginning should be?

Dell completes go-private transaction. (2013, October 29). Retrieved from http://www.dell.com/learn/us/en/uscorp1/secure/2013-10-29-dell-completes-go-private-transaction Feloni , R. (2013, December 31). New ad campaign compares dell to the hot, new startup it used to be. Business Insider, Retrieved from http://www.businessinsider.com/dell-beginnings-ad-2013-12 McDermott, J. (2013, August 07). Dell fielding agency pitches for its emerging software business: Winner will help usher dell into crowded but growing enterprise solutions industry. Advertising Age, Retrieved from http://adage.com/article/digital/dell-creative-agency-software-business/243543/ Castillo, M. (2014, August 12). Dell taps defy media for back-to-school campaign. Adweek, Retrieved from http://www.adweek.com/news/technology/dell-taps-defy-media-back-school-campaign-159464

APPENDIX 1 “Dell Beginnings”
– Television: “Dell Beginnings” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ja61fxmY77Q – Print: (on The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, The New York Times, and The Washington Post) Retrived from : http://www.dmnews.com/dell-ad-takes-us-back-to-the-start/article/327452/ Online: campaign website “Dell.com/DoMore” http://thepowertodomore.dell.com/ OOH: Austin International Airport, Times Square, New York Taxi (30-second version of the TV spot)
Social Media

YouTube: “Dell Beginnings” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ja61fxmY77Q Twitter:
Retrived from : http://www.dmnews.com/dell-ad-takes-us-back-to-the-start/article/327452/

APPENDIX 2 “Learning Meets Doing”
Social Media:
YouTube: Wildfire – Sam Tsui – Official Music Video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FS2EZ18Fcv8 SAN FRANCISCO ADVENTURE! https://www.youtube.com/watch?list=UUYJPby9DRCteedh5tfxVbrw&v=m0M9-160eBk#t=20 tumblr: http://dell.tumblr.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Dell

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