AUCKLAND (03/24/2000) - When Sybase Inc.'s new vice-president of corporate marketing, Pamela George, came on board she received commitments to double the vendor's advertising spend. In fact, this year, Sybase will spend more on advertising than it spent on all its corporate marketing last year.
There was an initial hiccup. George tried to buy advertising time on radio in California. Getting that time is almost impossible because the start-up dot.coms are spending their IPO (initial public offering) funds as fast as they raise the money, advertising themselves.
But there's more to marketing than advertising, and George has a very broad job. She develops corporate marketing strategy, directs marketing integration and execution of divisional marketing plans, manages the company's global channel and key partner programmes and directs business development. She also has responsibility for business operations, analyst relations, public relations, internal communications, advertising, creative service, and database, event and Web marketing.
George is a busy woman. But with more than 25 years in the industry, she has the background to handle it all.
She's spent time at Intel, in the 1980s, in the channel business at Arrow Electronics, and was director of corporate communications at Cisco Systems leading into its massive growth.
Marketing, says George, is communicating the value proposition of a company to a variety of constituents.
"A lot of companies are not consistent in the way they talks to partners, the press, analysts and others.
"Sybase has been terribly U.S.-centric. We need to be global. Our marketing had been event-driven -- hit and miss -- rather than an end-to-end program.
"The database wars have been fought and Sybase lost. Repositioning and rebranding the company is critical."
After a period with Polaroid, George joined Intel in 1983 at a time of rapid change. "We'd hired 7,000 in a year -- the industry was just catching on. But it was also cyclical: we laid off 8,300 the next year.
"That was a valuable lesson in marketing -- you've got to have long-range plans with contingencies."
In 1985 she was put on the launch committee for the 386 chip. "Suddenly times were good again. We had 80 percent market share -- but the bottom fell out of the market before the launch."
In those days, research and development at Intel was driven by Gordon Moore (he of "Moore's law") while Andy Grove was responsible for the day-to-day running of the company.
"Andy believed in a very tight infrastructure. The two integral parts were behind the success of Intel later on. We had leading-edge technology while Andy was very careful how the company was run.
"For example, he was in charge of 'Mr Clean' spot inspections, educating people on being very careful with resources.
"Only engineering had PCs, though it was a huge secret, not very well kept, that Andy used a Macintosh at home."
She says employees were taught how to be successful within the company.
Creativity was encouraged, and part of the environment was built on meritocracy. "If you identified an idea and could work within the infrastructure, you got a decision very quickly.
"Back in those days, though, if you wanted to spend more than US$50,000, you had to present to Andy and Gordon." That was at a time when Intel's annual revenues were US$600 million. NEC was the number one semiconductor supplier and Intel number six.
George says Intel owed much of its subsequent success to its relationship with IBM, which chose Intel chips at a time when Motorola chips were faster. "IBM bought 5 percent of the company to protect its source."
The famous Intel Inside logo came out of failed talks with Compaq to try to get the logo on the box. "We weren't really sure what we were saying -- we were trying to do something like 'Dolby Sound'. After I left, someone realized we were knocking on the wrong door and decided to go to the end user. Intel spent $250 million in an advertising campaign to build the Intel Inside brand so the customers then asked the vendors "for the best" even if they didn't know what it was.
"The benefit to Intel was enormous. It was the first consumer initiative in branding in the IT business and it made Intel a consumer company rather than a business-to-business company."
After the 386 launch, George expanded her role to run communications for the distribution channels. In 1987 she was recruited as director of communications by Arrow Communications, a semiconductor distributor for 41 companies.
"Again, the demand was cyclical and the industry ran on very narrow profit margins. It got back to relationships. When chips were in short supply, we knew which manufacturers would shut off supply.
"AMD really understood distribution and kept the relationships strong, which gave them an edge."
In 1987, George was promoted to vice-president, and president of High Tech Ad, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Arrow. The company suffered tragedy when all but one of its top executives were killed in a fire, and for two years had to recruit new executives, while expanding by acquisition.
She was headhunted to join Cisco in the early 1990s, just after Cisco went to IPO. "I took a significant pay cut but stock instead. (The stock has split six times since.) "A lot of people in Cisco did that. Loyalty pays off in the long term."
The name Cisco comes from San Francisco. The company was originally to have been called Sun (it came out of Stanford University also) but Scott McNealy got in first.
"I'd gone in with a division of nine people and four years later had 108," George says. "On my last year there we worked on decentralization into business units.
"I thought the job was done and left to take four months in Hawaii and Bali. I then decided to take two years off."
George came back to a decision support start-up company, Maxager Technology.
Then the recruiters came calling again.
This time it was Sybase CEO John Chen.
"I was extremely impressed because he spent time telling me why he went to Sybase. He'd run Pyramid and was on the board at Siemens and could obviously do anything.
"John has a good set of values and knows who he is."
She didn't accept the job as vice president of communications because of her commitment to the start-up. The recruiters came back a month later and "we talked some more".
George was keen on a job with responsibility for the channels, having spent five years at Arrow in that role.