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Qualcomm steps up chip branding campaign, plans TV ad

People sit next a Qualcomm stand at the Mobile World Congress at Barcelona, February 27, 2013. REUTERS/Albert Gea
People sit next a Qualcomm stand at the Mobile World Congress at Barcelona, February 27, 2013. REUTERS/Albert Gea

By Noel Randewich

SANTA CLARA, California (Reuters) - Qualcomm Inc is stepping up its Snapdragon chip branding campaign, including a commercial for movie theaters and television, in a bid to build customer loyalty in an increasingly competitive smartphone industry.

Chief Marketing Officer Anand Chandrasekher showed analysts a commercial playing in US theaters and said it would also be rolled out in other countries, including China. Qualcomm plans to air it on national TV within the next couple of months.

"We're trying to build an emotional bond with our customers," Chandrasekher said.

San Diego-based Qualcomm is benefiting from strong demand for mobile devices and a shift by network operators worldwide to a high-speed wireless technology known as long-term evolution (LTE), where the chipmaker is ahead of rivals. Its Snapdragon processors are widely used as the brain in tablets and smartphones.

But last week Qualcomm forecast earnings below expectations as competition in smartphones intensifies and shifts toward Asia.

Since the 1990s, Qualcomm has been a major player in the mobile chip industry but like most electronics component makers, branding has been a low priority during most of that time.

As a rule, it's seen as a good idea to add extra branding to products like smartphones only when the additional brand strongly conveys a quality that the handset maker's own brand lacks, industry experts say.

Intel's "Intel Inside" ad campaign has been a notable exception and the top chipmaker has extended it from personal computers to the handful of smartphones in Europe, Asia and Africa made with its processors.

"It's not our intention to compete with our customers' or partners' brands. ... Our brand should be accretive to big brands, not dilutive," Chandrasekher said.

Last year, Qualcomm began to step up its branding efforts, targeting its ads at technology enthusiasts through social media and other online efforts.

(Reporting By Noel Randewich; editing by Sofina Mirza-Reid)

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