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Dell's First Ad Since Going Private Celebrates Humble Beginnings

The company's new ad uses legendary entrepreneurial origin stories to tout its B2B business.

In February 2013, Michael Dell began a long process of taking the company private and putting control of the computer company back into the hands that built it. With the deal finalized in September, Dell called the latest incarnation of his company "the world's largest startup."

The company has been using "entrepreneurial spirit" as its internal mantra for a while now and asked its agency Y&R New York to find a way to express that to both external and internal audiences. Creatives Fern Cohen and Margot Owett started looking at companies like Dell that embodied entrepreneurial spirit and found most had one thing in common—a humble beginning. The resulting anthem spot, directed by Tomas Jonsgarden, takes us on a tour of the small apartments, basements, hotel rooms, and bus rides that were the first homes to companies like TripAdvisor, Skype, Under Armour, Whole Foods, Dropbox, and Gilt. For added legitimacy, the other thing all these companies have in common is a place on Dell's client list.

"As you can imagine, working with one client is a challenge; working with 14 or 15 of your client's clients could have and should have been impossible," says Y&R New York's EVP/Global Creative Director James Radosevic. "Instead, it was remarkably smooth. For most of these brands, their humble beginning is a huge part of their brand personality and they fully embraced the concept, were anxious to tell their story, and were quick to share old photos to help us bring their beginning to life."

It's the company's first TV commercial since it switched ownership gears and celebrating successful entrepreneurial starts seems a smart way to go. But the concept for the ad actually precedes the move to go private. "It came well before we had any idea that Dell was even considering going private," says Radosevic. "So it was more than a little serendipitous that we had this ready and waiting as Dell was about to become a 'startup' once again. It really seemed like the perfect way to celebrate Dell's clients, entrepreneurial spirit, and its own new beginning."