Dell's Funka-Dell-ic Reception at Comdex
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Holmes Report

Dell's Funka-Dell-ic Reception at Comdex

Dell’s consumer division, which had decided not to participate on the showroom floor, was determined to “get down” with the most influential consumer technology journalists and analysts in a spicier environment.

Paul Holmes

In November, more than 200,000 media representatives and analysts made the annual trek to Las Vegas to check out and review the latest and greatest technology products showcased by more than 2,000 exhibitors at Comdex – the premier industry trade show.
Dell’s consumer division, which had decided not to participate on the showroom floor, was determined to “get down” with the most influential consumer technology journalists and analysts in a spicier environment, away from routine clutter and product demonstrations on the crowded floor.  On Nov. 13, 2000, CEO Michael Dell, accompanied by his parents, opened the doors of the “Funka-DELL-ic” crib of leisure for media briefings, demos and all around good times.
The Funka-DELL-ic crib, located 10 minutes from the convention center, provided reporters an opportunity to kick back and enjoy the hippest examples of how consumers can liven up their lives with technology.  In addition, media were invited rub elbows with Michael Dell during a ‘70s theme party, complete with retro furniture and disco tunes.  
Dell’s consumer division needed a creative platform to generate interest and attention among key reporters and analysts amid the noise of 2,000-plus exhibitors competing for attention at Comdex.
Dell had successfully briefed media at Comdex 1999 by converting a house in Las Vegas into a digital holiday home to display its wares.  This year, Dell needed to create a new and equally interesting theme to lure media and analysts off the trade show floor for the second consecutive year.
Dell, a leading supplier of corporate technology, was gaining visibility in the consumer technology space and needed to reemphasize that it has moved beyond the beige by offering new color schemes and PC accessories for the home.
The Comdex theme that the PC was dying or dead needed to be set straight by educating influencers about how the PC and hip accessories can serve as the home’s hub for a variety of activities, including leisure and entertainment.
  • Communicate the consumer lifestyle benefits of Dell products and services
  • Demonstrate that the PC is alive and well and is truly the centerpiece of home entertainment
  • Communicate that Dell is a hip technology innovator with its fingers on the pulse of consumer’s technology needs
Create a funky theme that would stand out in the otherwise dull and straightforward Comdex news.  Showcase Dell products and services in a real-life setting, giving visitors an opportunity to experience the products as consumers would at home.
An interactive online invitation, featuring disco music, twirling flowers, dancing silhouettes, and rainbow-colored groovy fonts, was emailed to more than 100 technology reporters and analysts inviting them to “Dust Off Your Dell Bottoms” and come get a groove on with Michael Dell and his mother at a Funka-DELL-ic press reception.  
Dell rented a home, previously owned by Howard Hughes, just a few blocks away from the Convention Center to entertain and brief guests with the latest products and services.
Dell outfitted the home with high-speed Internet connections and its full line of entertainment accessories, including a Digital Audio Receiver, to play 70s music, and DVD drives to play 70s themed movies.
Funky decorations, including hip furniture, lava lamps, fluorescent lights and hanging beads, greeted guests as they entered the Funka-Dell-ic crib wired with Dell’s latest and greatest PCs and accessories.  Reporters lounged on chairs shaped like high-heeled shoes and kicked back on a sofa, designed to look like a pair of ruby red lips.
Dell’s Digital Audio Receiver, a new technology that allows consumers to listen to MP3s on a stereo through phone lines, provided the greatest hits from the 70s while the popular Austin Powers DVD played in the background on a Dell PC.  Each product demonstration tied in music or visuals from the 70s, remaining consistence with the party theme and enabling media to experience Dell’s offerings in a relaxed environment.
Individual tours and/or interviews were conducted with representatives of 40 plus media outlets and analysts groups, including CNET, ZDNet, Wall Street Journal,  CBS MarketWatch, CBS Early Show, Dallas Morning News, Cox News Service, Austin American Statesman, Los Angeles Times, and KLAS-TV (CBS), which shot a live feed.
More than 114 reporters and analysts attended the press reception with Michael Dell at the Funka-DELL-ic crib, who commented that the online invitation and 70s theme was a definite attention grabber.
The Funka-DELL-ic reception was scheduled to last one hour, but dozens of reporters spent more than two hours at the house, chatting with Dell executives, enjoying the atmosphere and testing out products.  Several media representatives passed on the opportunity for a ride back to Comdex to listen to a keynote speech being offered by another technology CEO, opting instead to hang out at the Funka-DELL-ic crib a little longer.
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