Dell means business–and not business as usual

bg_sqpost_dell.jpgAd Age: A new A&E reality series is bringing the makeover to the boardroom. On “We Mean Business,” a technology expert, an interior designer and “Apprentice” winner Bill Rancic try to give flagging companies a new lease on life. Computer manufacturer Dell has signed on for an eight-episode integration that includes product placement and branded content on A&E’s web site as well as a Dell microsite.

Branding today’s business no longer means static anything – whether you’re talking about a web site, employee or tightly sealed corporate lips. It’s just not the new reality. And no one knows that better then Dell.

It was three summers ago that Dell was put in “Dell Hell” by Jeff Jarvis, a blogger who seemingly singlehandedly forced the computer genius to “get out of the fire” and face the media storm. Jarvis had charged that Dell’s customer satisfaction ratings were in the tank; products were deemed lemons, and life for all Dellers was a “living hell.” All of which, by the way, only helped Steve Jobs and Apple Computers gain more traction and users with its genius switcher campaign –“Hello I’m a Mac. I’m a PC.”

What happened next is a storybook ending as well as a well-touted marketing case study for both Dell and the blogger. Michael Dell gets reinstated and launches IdeaStorm in early 2007, a social site designed for online conversations and collaboration with its users. It then wins over the once-Dell-anatgonist-but-now-avid-protagonist, Jeff Jarvis, who eventually wrote an article for BusinessWeek that documented Dell’s graceful ride out of hell titled “Dell learns to listen.”

So does it come as any surprise that Dell’s next step is to embrace new media strategies? Dell’s taken the monumental step of sinking a few mega-marketing bucks into a well-suited reality show, “We Mean Business,” which celebrates Dell’s roots by celebrating the art of entrepreneurism and survival.

Do we need another reality show? Maybe not. But prior success of the “Apprentice,” “Queer Eye” and “Flip This House” indicates a solid thumbs up and a cross-platform of new audience possibilities. (And dare I say that “We Mean Business” is a show that is sure to have more real notes than the Olympic singing of Lin Miaoke. I mean really, if Pierce Brosnan can go fearlessly public — so should China.)

But what is revolutionary about this reality show’s marketing is that both AETN and Dell’s microsites will supposedly allow real-time purchasing of featured on-air products, and the ability to track the impact that Dell’s products are actually having on the contestants success. Everyone loves measurement!

So yes, Dell is learning, listening––and delivering to the trends of what the market and customers expect. Cause they mean business, and so should you!

Filed: branding, entertainment

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