A faceless China company wants to make an impact in the U.S. and that is no easy task to be sure. To start their journey, Lenovo, purchased IBM’s personal computer division and rode ThinkPad and its desktop PCs and servers right by Hewlett-Packard to grab the number one spot in global shipments. Yet still Lenovo is far from a household name, although business buyers and techno people are well aware of the company, because of the ThinkPad name.
Lenovo, the largest PC manufacturer in China, made it quite clear they were in this for the long haul in a 2005 interview:
Yuanqing Yang, chairman, Lenovo, spoke to ET about how his company is trying to build an international company. Lenovo is now among the top three companies in the industry world over. Mr Yang says, “We wanted to create a global company and a global brand. And the quickest way of doing it was through acquiring a brand like IBM. We are allowed to use the IBM brand for some years and we will own the Thinkpad brand… The combination of the Lenovo brand and IBM will help us in building a global brand. The heritage of IBM, we feel, will work for Lenovo’s brand in the long run.”
They did exactly that, took IBM’s heritage and made it their own, but are still trying to mold its own public identity. With personal PC sales dwindling each quarter, U.S. rivals Dell and Hewlett-Packard are trying to make inroads where Lenovo already has a stronghold, enterprise sales. ThinkPads are the mainstay in many corporations and because Lenovo bought the name, they were able to brand them, IBM ThinkPad by Lenovo, for a few years and many people did not even realize they were using a Lenovo.
Meanwhile, Lenovo is stepping up its enterprise sales, but also trying to break into the growing and profitable consumer areas, such as tablets, mobile phones, and home entertainment products. Lenovo is already the number two mobile phone maker in China, and plans to enter the U.S. smartphone market within a year. To be a success, Lenovo needs a familiar face to “introduce” themselves to the U.S.
Enter Ashton Kutcher – The New York Post reported this morning that Lenovo and Kutcher were close to signing US$10 million endorsement deal. Kutcher is a good choice for Lenovo as Kutcher is as likable a celebrity as you could find. He recently played Steve Jobs in his biography, his face has been commonplace in Nikon TV ads since 2009, and he is currently one of the highest paid TV actors on the top-ten sitcom, Two and a Half Men.
Yang acknowledged his company’s need in its 2012/2013 annual report:
And we will continue to invest in our “For Those Who Do” brand campaign to further increase awareness in our brand and drive growth worldwide. The continued strengthening of our brand will make us more competitive in the consumer space and enhance the value of our products, leading to improved profitability. Already, our brand has reached new heights, but in the coming year we must truly establish ourselves as a global consumer and commercial brand of choice in the PC+ space.”
Lenovo has the products and technical knowhow to compete in the market, all they need is an introduction to the U.S. public, and Ashton Kutcher is just the man to get that job done. That US$10 million is a drop in the bucket for the return Lenovo can expect in return.
Let us know in the comments if you currently own a Lenovo product and if you would like to see them enter the smartphone market in North America.
Source : ZDNet