Paul Lu began his career with Intel China in 2005 in retail marketing. After stints in strategic marketing and product marketing, he became the overall lead for brand marketing, which covers Intel’s master brand marketing strategy, creative development, market research and events. When Intel’s brand indicators and rankings began dropping in 2014, Lu was part of the campaign to revitalise the brand, where events played a key role.
How do events fit into your role?
Intel is a lean company and I have three event managers who handle 50-60 events each year: 10-15 tier 1 events, 20-30 tier 2 and 20 tier 3. The level depends on the budget and audience size.
Two years ago, we had a new marketing initiative to revitalise our master brand. Our major brand promise is that “Intel makes the amazing possible” and our brand campaign message was “Intel inside, amazing experience outside”.
So fulfilling the brand promise and “experience” is a major focus, but it is not always just about the physical audience.
For example, we recently had a brand experience at the Grammy’s where we partnered with Lady Gaga. We used innovative technologies from Intel such as interactive content that responded in real time to her movements, a changing “digital skin” using facial recognition technology, robotics and interactive holograms – all experienced by people watching on TV.
Intel also partnered with the Royal Shakespeare Company to develop a breakthrough live theatre experience. It was the first time a live virtual avatar was brought on stage to interact with real actors, enabled by real-time motion capture technology and Intel computing power.
We also enable consumers to experience the technology themselves. Last year, we developed a music video for top Chinese singer and fashion icon Chris Lee using our artificial intelligence (AI) technology. During the launch event we set up an experience area that allowed the media, KOLs and consumers to experience the technology used in the different scenes in the video themselves.
This kind of experiential event is critical for us to deliver our brand promise. We not only claim that we are a tech leader, we also want people to physically experience it and embrace it.
For consumer products, our major focus is PC and gaming so we do a lot of gaming tournaments such as the Intel Master Challenger and, of course, product launches.
On the commercial side, events are super important as well because those events gather a specific target audience that are experts on different verticals, different industries and different technology sectors. We participate in a lot of industry events as well and hold our own industry events to demonstrate Intel’s tech leadership, product solutions and ecosystem such as Intel’s AI conference or Intel’s Manufacturing Day.
How does Intel China marketing fit within the global programme?
Most of the decisions are made in China, but we work very closely with the US. They appreciate the difference, and they give us flexibility. The internet environment is totally different, for example. From an Intel perspective, 10 years ago, China was part of Asia Pacific. But now China is probably the only market on par with the US.
What have been the big changes?
For the consumer event side, the biggest change is that we focus more and more on digital amplification. For the B2B event side it’s the same – we care a lot about how we do online broadcasting, and how we can get a bigger audience than at the event itself. For the brand vertical, our brand promise is “amazing experience outside” so we need everyone to feel amazing.
How has the changing industry landscape impacted Intel China?
We do all our events through agencies, we don’t have an in-house agency team due to cost. We have an agency pool of six to seven agencies who pitch for the major events, mostly local agencies now. Their quality is quite good and they have been working with us on a lot of in-house mega events where they prove that they’re very qualified.
By using local agencies it saves us quite a lot on cost compared with the global agencies. On the creativity side they have some challenges, but for me, I also manage the creative team so I bring in our creative agency to do the design. That way we can keep, or even increase, the level of the design quality while saving on cost.
Venue selection is a big focus area in our pitching process to see which agency can come up with most creative choice and build all the other things around it creatively. For example, last year Intel brought esports to the Olympics for the first time with an event under the Beijing Olympic Tower.
What trends are you watching?
There are a few areas related to events that we pay very close attention to. Firstly, the intuition between technology and the event itself, because technology is the foundation of our brand experiential events – all the brand experiences we do start with Intel technology. And our industry events always have the latest product experience demonstrations so making those demonstrations appealing is always important.
Second is creativity, how to make the audience feel Intel is unique, creative and attractive – having interesting and engaging elements. Third is cost saving. Events are expensive, so we look at how to use lower costs to achieve better results or the same level of results. Then for the results, how to amplify the event to make a bigger impact. Those are the major considerations every time I have an event.