HP Guerilla Marketing At EMC World Targeted Attendees With Activities, Events Up To $599

Hewlett-Packard is claiming success in its attempt to lure customer attendees at last week's EMC World to look at HP storage by offering them an opportunity to try some of Las Vegas' biggest attractions at no charge.

HP offered EMC World attendees with an EMC World badge who tweeted "#72hoursofyes" during the first three days of the conference the chance to ask for anything ranging from shopping to a show to a helicopter ride.

HP offered to fill up to 40 requests each of the three days of the promotion, with the retail value of the requests limited to no more than $599.

[Related: EMC's Big Reveal: Will Ship Hyper-Converged Infrastructure This Year ]

Sponsored post

HP also offered EMC World attendees a free shuttle from the airport to their hotels during the event and back.

Several EMC World attendees took advantage of the promotion. YouTube videos show attendees getting Cirque du Soleil training, driving a bulldozer, getting a tattoo, and a helicopter tour of Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon.

Other attendees received Lady Godiva chocolates, a Gucci bag, a pink gorilla suite, NASCAR race car driving, tickets to a Britney Spears concert and a chance to try indoor sky diving.

Rich Baldwin, CIO and chief strategy officer at Nth Generation Computing, a San Diego-based solution provider and HP partner, said he expects HP's presence at EMC World will get several EMC customers to take a serious look at HP 3PAR storage.

While Nth has yet to see any leads from the #72hoursofyes promotion, Baldwin said it is nice to be able to point at the buzz.

"From what I heard from HP, this was the fifth most popular tweet at EMC World," he said. "Can you imagine having your EMC people looking at that? I wonder what EMC is going to do to respond next month at HP Discover?"

For EMC, whether to respond at HP Discover is a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't scenario, Baldwin said.

"If EMC does nothing at HP Discover, that's probably the best response," he said. "But if it tries to retaliate, it would make people think HP won at EMC World."

For EMC solution providers at EMC World, HP's #72hoursofyes promotion was a waste of time at best, and could hurt attendees in some cases.

Eric Ransden, regional director of business development at Lumenate, a Dallas-based solution provider and EMC partner, said he sees no substantial impact from the promotion on EMC's business.

NEXT: Ethics Of HP's #72hoursofyes Promotion Questioned

"Attendees come to an event like this for a specific reason," Ransden said. "They wouldn't make the time commitment if it wasn't important for them. But I understand why companies like HP want to do it."

Milton Lin, master cloud architect at Force 3, a Crofton, Md.-based solution provider and EMC partner, called the HP promotion "unethical" and "childish."

"It's a very low-ball move," Lin said. "It's one thing to show up with an HP truck and take a picture outside EMC World. This promotion is more like a bribe."

The EMC World attendees who took advantage of HP's #72hoursofyes promotion could actually find themselves in trouble in some cases, Lin said.

"Attendees pay between $1,400 and $1,900 to attend, plus travel expenses and the time involved," he said. "Now HP gives them a chance to drive a construction vehicle. I wonder what the bosses of these people think. If I were their boss, I'd ask, 'Just what did you do there?' Events like this are instructional opportunities. I'm not sure they should be doing this on company time."

Neither EMC nor HP were able to provide additional information by press time.