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Intel ads spotlight 'rock star' engineers

Company's new ad campaign is its biggest marketing push in three years and the first that focuses on the Intel brand and not a processor product.

Intel's "rock star" ads will try to show that Intel is more than just microprocessors--a theme of its broader ad campaign to launch on Monday.

One of the first Internet-based ads focuses on Ajay Bhatt, an Intel Fellow who was one of the principal engineers behind the development of USB, a crucial Intel technology used in virtually all PCs today. (Intel engineers in the ads are personified by hired actors. "Several of the engineers we're personifying confided that acting isn't within their comfort zone," said Sandra Lopez, Intel's global consumer marketing manager in a statement.)

The new global "Sponsors of Tomorrow" campaign is Intel's biggest marketing campaign in three years and the first that focuses on the Intel brand and not a processor product.

The campaign will launch May 11 in the United States, Germany, and the United Kingdom with limited teaser ads starting online this week--such as the USB rock star ad. The campaign will ultimately expand to more than two dozen countries with ads reaching Brazil and Japan in the third quarter.

Like GE and lightbulbs, Intel will always be intricately linked to microprocessors. And many consumers have trouble relating to the value of a chip, when all they actually interface with, day in and day out, is the software.

Intel's ads will try to convey the message that "gigantic advances of the digital age have been made possible by silicon...and the vast majority of this silicon has come from Intel. Our image, our brand are far too powerful to just be a microprocessor when, in fact, the greatest strength of the Intel brand will always be what is still to come," Intel said in a statement.

The multimillion-dollar marketing campaign is the largest for Intel since "Multiply," the September 2006 campaign that supported the then-new Intel Core 2 Duo. "Sponsors of Tomorrow" is expected to have a lifespan of 3 to 5 years, and was created by Venables Bell & Partners in San Francisco.