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Advertising History

Intel celebrates 50th anniversary by opening its marketing vault and bringing out the Bunny People


By Kyle O'Brien, Creative Works Editor

July 27, 2018 | 7 min read

50 years ago, the idea of a computer processor company becoming a household name seemed ludicrous. Jump forward, and Intel is perhaps the most famous maker of microchips, thanks in large part to its ‘Intel Inside’ ads from the 90s, as well as its early marketing efforts.

Intel is celebrating its landmark 50th anniversary this year (July 18 was the official date), and the brand’s archives have been opened to show the history of its advertising over the last half-century, taking a nerdy and highly technological product and making it known to a global audience.

Intel’s brand heritage has been a study in staying power, grounded by its iconic ‘Intel Inside’ messaging. Since its introduction in the early 1990s, this seminal campaign has defined an industry, and created one of the world’s largest marketing cooperatives, with hundreds of companies licensed to display the Intel logo on their devices, furthering the mindshare of the brand.

Before ‘Intel Inside,’ the company surprised the tech community with its infamous ‘Red X’ campaign, a simple graffiti-like design superimposed a large red letter ‘X’ over a white background.

Intel Red X

“We launched our first consumer-focused marketing campaign, the “Red X” campaign, in 1989,” said an Intel spokesperson to The Drum. “We had recently introduced the 386 microprocessor, which was a major technical breakthrough, but manufacturers were reluctant to upgrade from the 286 and consumers didn’t understand the benefits of the 386. Dennis Carter, who later became Intel’s chief marketing officer, introduced the ‘Red X’ campaign and ushered in a new era of marketing: Intel speaking directly to its customers. The campaign was simple, it featured a crossed-out 286 followed in close proximity by an advertisement for the 386 explaining its advantages. Before long, customers began asking for the 386 by name.

Intel went on to say that shortly after, Carter developed the ‘Intel Inside’ campaign, which officially launched in 1991. While other tech marketing focused on technical prowess and appealed to industry insiders, ‘Intel Inside’ was accessible to laymen. The simple logo was loaded with enough meaning to give non-techies an easy way to understand their devices contained state-of-the-art components.

“While we promoted the Intel Inside logo in our ads, the campaign depended heavily on collaboration with the product manufacturers who included the Intel Inside logo on their products and in their ads, encouraging consumers to think about the processor inside the devices.”

Continued the Intel spokesperson: “Intel took a leap by marketing to consumers. After all most consumers didn’t buy an Intel chip, but instead bought a product with ‘Intel Inside.’ By creating a relationship with consumers and educating them about the benefits of Intel hardware, consumers began to ask for Intel by name.”

The company also converted the most literally sterile of its locations – the semiconductor ‘clean room’ – into a fashion statement and cultural moment in a campaign to promote the multimedia features of its Pentium I and Pentium II microprocessors featuring dancing lab technicians in clean room bunny suits, giving rise to an extended ‘Bunny People’ marketing craze. The company has even made an updated video for its website, called ‘Five tips to rock a bunny suit’ in honor of the 50th anniversary.

“When the ‘Intel Inside’ campaign launched, no other major company had tried ‘ingredient branding’ before. The Bunny People took the ‘Intel Inside’ campaign to a new level. Now, ‘Intel Inside’ not only associated the Intel brand with cutting-edge technology and quality components, but it could make be fun and engaging to non-techies,” stated Intel.

In 1997, the dancing Intel ‘Bunny People’ made their debut in an ad for the Pentium MMX during Super Bowl XXXI and became an iconic corporate mascot.

Intel Bunny People ad

“The Intel ‘Bunny Suit’ was first introduced in 1973 as a way to keep our manufacturing areas clean, as even the tiniest dust particles can ruin a chip. The suits quickly become a beloved part of the internal culture, but not something widely known externally,” stated Intel.

“With the introduction of the Intel Bunny People ads, the suit burst into the American popular consciousness and became an instantly recognizable signifier of the Intel brand. The Bunny People grew beyond advertisements for specific products to become company mascots. They made appearances at major events, their likeness graced countless promotions and Bunny People bean-bag dolls and tchotchkes became collectibles.”

In some brilliantly simple sonic branding, the company introduced the world-renowned Intel ‘bong’ – the trademarked five-note iconic chime that’s been omnipresent in the company’s advertising campaigns for over two decades. According to Intel, it’s estimated the bong has been heard more than a billion times globally, resonating somewhere in the world once every five minutes.

“The Intel ‘bong’ premiered in 1994, when we began to advertise on television. It was composed by Walter Werzowa, an Austrian native who’d achieved a measure of fame in the 80s with the electronica band Edelweiss and moved to the United States following the group’s disbandment,” said Intel. “According to Werzowa, the ‘Intel Inside’ tagline triggered a melody in his head that became the famous jingle: D-flat, D-flat, G-flat, D-flat, A-flat. The rhythm was inspired by the syllables of the tagline.

“The bong has been updated in the nearly 25 years since its creation. Visuals have changed and some bass has been added, but the essential five-note sequence remains the same, making it one of the most recognizable sonic logos today.”

Celebrating 50 years while moving forward

According to Intel’s website, 50 years ago, Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore founded the tech company with a purpose: To ponder what might be possible. To imagine, to question and to do wonderful in pursuit of a better future. In honor of their golden anniversary, the company has embraced Noyce’s inspiring challenge: “Don’t be encumbered by history, go off and do something wonderful.”

Intel’s brand transformation has gone outside the factory to embrace its ‘Amazing Experiences Outside’ campaign push, launched in 2016. It implies everything that ‘Intel Inside’ conveys, while shifting the focus from the interior of a device to the larger meaning of the brand itself.

“‘Amazing Experiences Outside’ demonstrates how Intel technology inside creates amazing experiences outside that are more tangible, more immersive, more global and more engaging. The new campaign brings our brand promise to life and highlights the amazing experiences made possible by Intel’s breakthrough technology for more than 50 years,” said the company.

To celebrate 50 years, not only did Intel trot out the Bunny Suit people, it also flew 2,018 Intel Shooting Star drones over its Folsom, California, facility in a light show that set a Guinness World Record title for the most unmanned aerial vehicles airborne simultaneously.

See more early Intel ads by clicking on the Creative Works box below.

Intel: advert-body-3

By Intel

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