Citrix to Launch $14M Ad Campaign and New Brand Message--Will it be Enough?

September 15 will be a big day for Citrix. A new message, new logos, a new website, and (finally) a consumer-oriented brand campaign.

September 15 will be a big day for Citrix. A new message, new logos, a new website, and (finally) a consumer-oriented brand campaign.

As I've written before, Citrix's core-competency has always been in the "server-based computing" or "thin client computing" space. However, the current MetaFrame Presentation Server product is extremely advanced, and it's possbile that Citrix could hit a bit of an "innovation ceiling" with this space. (A new version will be announced next month, so we'll see if there will be any ground-breaking features.) Low-cost competitors now offer a many of MetaFrame's features at a fraction of the price. At the same time, Citrix (like all vendors) is constantly looking for a way to "grow" current customers who already make extensive use of MetaFrame.

Citrix is now focusing everything on one core message--"access." MetaFrame XP Presentation Server will be just one small part of their Access Infrastructure solutions. Citrix hopes that this campaign will increase the understanding of their brand and that it will distance them from competitors who "merely" offer thin client computing solutions. To that end, "thin client computing" and "virtual workplace" are two terms that you won't hear from Citrix any time soon. To Citrix, these only represent a fraction of their overall "access" solution message. This message will show that Citrix solutions offer simplicity, heterogeneity, and centralization.

One of the main components of this campaign will be a big red circular button that says "Access." They want to show that access to applications is as simple as pressing a button. For the first time ever, Citrix will focus this campaign on end-users. They want to build Citrix into a powerhouse brand, and they want to start sounding, looking, and marketing like a billion-dollar company.

Citrix's goal is that this campaign will raise awareness among c-level decision makers that Citrix's technology is real and has been successfully deployed throughout the world. To that end, they're using top IT folks from household brands to help them deliver that message. Print ads will feature huge pictures of Curtis Rob, CIO of Delta Airlines, Joyce Vonada, VP of IT for AutoNation, and Dr. Hartwig Faber, CIO of Smart (a division of DaimlerChrysler) telling their stories about how Citrix has made their lives easier and saved them money.

Citrix has grand plans for these print ads, including major publications such as The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, Business Week, and Delta Airlines' inflight magazine. Citrix is also sponsoring several National Public Radio programs, putting signs in airports, and putting up billboards in Silicon Valley, the NYC financial district, and Ft. Lauderdale. (Why they think Ft. Lauderdale is a strategic market for them is anyone's guess.)

Citrix is going to spend $6M through Feb 2004 for ads in the US, UK, Germany, France, and Japan. They'll spend $8M more for the ten-month period from Mar-Dec 2004, also adding Canada and Australia to the original five countries.

Only time will tell if this "refocusing" of their messaging will be successful. They've tried to broaden their message in the past ("Hey, we're a content delivery company!" "Hey, we're a portal company!"), but those messages have always failed and they've dropped back to their MetaFrame thin client / server-based roots. However, now that low-cost competitors have moved into that space, this could be Citrix's last chance to get their message right.

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