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Intel ad campaign cries 'Unwire'

The chipmaker hypes its Centrino family, which includes the new Pentium-M chip for notebooks, a supporting chipset and an 802.11b radio module for wireless networking.

Intel on Monday will begin coaxing notebook buyers to "unwire" as part of a new, multimillion-dollar ad campaign designed to introduce the Centrino family of chips.

Intel, which plans to introduce the new chip family at a March 12 event in New York, will kick off the Centrino campaign with teaser TV ads.

The Centrino family, which includes Intel's new Pentium-M processor, a supporting chipset and an 802.11b radio module for wireless networking, will form the core of a new generation of lightweight notebooks from computer manufacturers.

These notebooks, which are expected to deliver longer battery life than today's Pentium 4-M models, should start at prices in the range of $1,500 to $1,800. They will begin hitting the streets March 12, the same day as the chip launch. The Pentium-M will debut at speeds starting at 900MHz and topping out at 1.6GHz

But not everyone will swallow Centrino whole. Many manufacturers will offer the product family in their notebooks but also provide customers the option of a different radio module. In doing so, those manufacturers will forfeit their ability to use the Centrino brand name, under Intel's marketing rules. Notebooks without the Intel module can be marketed only as having Pentium-M inside, according to those rules.

Intel plans to run a series of ads carrying the "unwire!" tag line in 11 countries--on television, in print, on Web sites and on outdoor billboards. The company is expected to spend $300 million to promote the new chips, but Intel would not comment on the budget.

It's unusual for the chipmaker to dedicate an entire ad campaign to a mobile chip. Intel did its first mobile processor TV ad, a spot for the Pentium 4-M, just last year. The Centrino campaign is evidence of a broader strategy on Intel's part to better segment its processors. Instead of modifying an existing desktop chip for mobility, as has been its tradition in the past, Intel created the Pentium-M specifically for notebooks.

Recent Intel ads have used the Blue Man Group and space aliens to promote the Pentium 4 chip. This campaign will depict businesspeople working on notebooks in unusual places, such as on a diving board, the chipmaker said. The campaign was created by New York-based ad agency Euro RSCG MVBMS, which Intel has used before.