HP issues apology for using city in ad

`Regret any offense,' firm says of campaign for supply software

Economic development

April 01, 1999|By June Arney | June Arney,SUN STAFF

Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke should be checking his mailbox for correspondence from Hewlett-Packard Co.

In the next few days, he will receive a letter of apology for a recent ad that ran in national newspapers that has been interpreted by some Baltimore officials as portraying the city in a negative light.

In a statement issued yesterday, the computer company said: "The Baltimore ad was intended merely to illustrate the concept of perfect supply chain management in the age of the Internet and was in no way intended to cast aspersions on the city of Baltimore. We think Baltimore is a wonderful city, and we regret any offense the ad may have caused unintentionally. The ad ran one time in four daily newspapers, and we do not plan to run any more insertions of the ad as a result of the concern that we've heard."

The advertisement appeared last week in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, USA Today and San Jose Mercury News.

The multipage ad was part of a more than $100 million campaign for e-services, an Internet inventory management program, that covers several months, according to a spokeswoman for HP, based in Palo Alto, Calif. The campaign was created by the San Francisco office of Saatchi & Saatchi, a New York advertising company, the HP spokeswoman said.

Saatchi & Saatchi declined to comment yesterday.

In the Journal, a banner headline across two pages said, "You're dying in Baltimore." Smaller type followed and ran to the edge of the second page saying, "Oddly enough you're killing" before picking up on the third page with "them in Milwaukee. What you can't give away in one place is flying off the shelves in another. Enter something called e-services."

The Greater Baltimore Alliance criticized the ad as being difficult to understand and misleading. Alliance members have organized a letter-writing campaign to voice their unhappiness with the ad that has generated about 40 letters and promises of letters. Four businessmen said they planned to write to tell HP they might reconsider their contracts with the company, GBA officials said.

"We're very pleased that they have acknowledged the faux pas," Lois C. Yates, vice president of marketing and work force development for the GBA, said yesterday. "We're not letting them off the hook yet. I think we want to go a few steps farther."

GBA officials want HP President and Chief Executive Officer Lewis E. Platt to come to Baltimore to see the area for himself. They also would like to see HP run an ad that promotes the region along with an HP product.

"We're going to follow up with them on that," Yates said. "We're not going to roll over and play dead yet."

Pub Date: 4/01/99

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