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New execs to tackle Compaq's marketing doldrums

The PC maker is bringing in two new executives, as the company tries to pull itself out of a marketing slump.

Compaq Computer hired two new executives today, as the company tries to pull itself out of a marketing slump.

Douglas Fox will take over as senior vice president of marketing and strategy, and William Fasig will become vice president of corporate communications.

Today's hires come as Compaq tries to reinvigorate its marketing and public relations, following the departure last year of its longtime PR agency, Shandwick International.

"These new hires will hopefully bring some much needed direction to Compaq's marketing strategy," Technology Business Research analyst Lindy Lesperance said. "They've had some PR blunders in the past. And they need a PR and marketing department that spans across the entire company and delivers consistent messages both to analysts and the press, as well as customers." michael capellas

Fox, who leaves International Paper as a marketing senior vice president, starts Monday. Fasig will assume his new role Aug. 7, after leaving Burson-Marsteller's technology PR firm.

"Doug Fox and Bill Fasig are representative of the top talent we are attracting to Compaq," CEO Michael Capellas said in a statement. "Both of them will play key roles as we move closer to our goal of consistently reinforcing our strategy and messages in the marketplace."

Fox will report directly to Capellas, and Fasig to Fox.

The timing is important for Compaq as it struggles to regain lost retail market share from rival Hewlett-Packard. In February, HP stole Compaq's lead in retail sales. And HP has yet to relinquish it, according to market researcher PC Data.

In May, HP widened its lead in store sales, with 42.4 percent market share, compared with Compaq's 28.9 percent. HP stayed ahead in overall retail, including online and catalog sales, with 36 percent vs. Compaq's 31.1 percent.

Analysts predict Compaq will greatly increase advertising and sales promos going into the back-to-school buying season, one of Compaq's busiest sales periods of the year. In late June, the Houston-based PC maker unveiled new Presario consumer PCs and notebooks, sporting interchangeable colored faceplates and accents.

Compaq will announce its second-quarter 2000 results on July 25. During a conference call on projected results this week, a Merrill Lynch analyst predicted that Compaq will post earnings of 21 cents a share, but with only single-digit growth to revenue around $10 billion.

Financial analysts late last month started sparring over projected results, after Smith Barney analyst Richard Gardner downgraded Compaq to "neutral" from "buy" over concerns the company had too much inventory on dealers' shelves.

Compaq denied the allegations, saying inventory was on shelves within the normal time frame, which has typically been around four weeks.