Dell is to try and draw a line under its poor performance this year with a new strategy: don’t mention the low prices; and spend a whole heap of money on advertising. Paul-Henri Ferrand, CMO for the firm’s global consumer, and small and medium business division told Reuters on Wednesday that it would start to put the emphasis on premium products as well as its cheaper options, and spend “hundreds and hundreds of millions” on an ad campaign for its new products, of which its laptops will come with the added goodness of JBL speakers.
Just how much difference a nine-figure advertising budget will make to Dell remains to be seen, especially at a time when the firm has been paying out hefty sums to settle lawsuits. As well as shelling out $100 million to the SEC to settle a fraud case, it is currently battling claims that it knowingly sold faulty products to consumers.
The firm is evidently taking a leaf out of Apple’s successful strategy of flogging top-drawer tech at high prices–the difference being, of course, that Apple gear is innovative, and of a high quality, something that Steve Jobs is very aware of. Jobs recently claimed that Apple’s rivals’ tablets would never compete with his firm’s products, saying that the seven-inch tablets from competitors would be “DOA, dead on arrival.” And after Wednesday’s MacBook Air event, Jobs took time to poke fun calling a Fortbes reporters Dell laptop porky. “Look at all those fat notebooks,” he quipped, looking at Brian Caulfield’s Dell M1210 with what Caulfield called a “predatory grin.”
Dell’s execs, however, are fighting back in this long war of words, portraying Apple as dictatorial in its attitude to customers. “Apple is known for dictating what is going to happen in the market place and what a consumer should buy,” said Steve Felice, President of Ferrand’s division. “We’re at the opposite end of the spectrum, emphasizing customer choice. It’s a bit premature to tell customers what they’re going to like and what they don’t like.”
Next Monday sees the launch of Dell’s latest products aimed at consumers readying their wallets for the holiday season, one of which will be a smaller tablet device, as well as a sized-down laptop that converts into a 10-inch tablet.