The Six Five On The Road with Qualcomm CMO Don McGuire at Snapdragon Summit 2022

The Six Five On The Road at Snapdragon Summit 2022. Hosts Patrick Moorhead and Daniel Newman sit down with Don McGuire, SVP & CMO of Qualcomm. Their conversation covers:

  • Snapdragon’s ability to be a premium product brand and a consumer-facing brand
  • The Gen 2’s ability to produce extraordinary experiences within mobile
  • The latest partnerships that have helped support the Snapdragon brand

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Patrick Moorhead: Hi, this is Pat Moorhead and we are here live and on the road at Qualcomm Snapdragon Summit here in Maui. Somebody had to come on the team, so it might as well have been me. And I’m here with my awesome cohost, Daniel Newman. Look at us. We’re kind of on the beach, kind of not.

Daniel Newman: Yeah, we didn’t do the dress code right, but we had CEO, Cristiano Amon, came out in his Hawaiian shirt and showed us how it’s done.

Patrick Moorhead: I know.

Daniel Newman: That’s a confidence move, by the way. In all serious though, these are a lot of fun. Now for everyone out there that’s been watching all our videos, I think they’ve gotten the hint. We’re in Maui and we brag about it on every video because we know how the world works. Not everybody watches all the videos. We need to remind them each and every time. Today we got Don McGuire, the chief marketing officer here at Qualcomm. Super excited to have you here, Don. It’s been a while. How are you?

Don McGuire: It’s been a while. Yeah, I’m great. This is the Snapdragon Summit, man. It’s the pinnacle of the year for us. Excited to be here on Maui again, COVID-free and things were pretty normal. And excited to see you guys.

Daniel Newman: Yeah. Let’s kick it off. I remember listening to you as you ascended into this role, talking about this objective of turning Qualcomm into a consumer facing brand. I mean, it’s a big week, a lot of announcements, but how have you had so much success moving the Snapdragon brand forward and concurrently winning with consumers?

Don McGuire: Yeah, it’s a great question. For Snapdragon, it all started with separating the two brands. We made that decision back about six months before I became CMO. And that was something Cristiano and I have talked about real literally for years. We never believed they belonged together. Actually, it was really hard for them to work together. They actually didn’t work together as brands, believe it or not.

It was really difficult for our partners to use and talk about in advertising and in co-marketing. The Snapdragon brand had already enjoyed its standalone ascension in certain markets in Asia. And then when we lobbed Qualcomm on top of it, it created confusion. Separating the brands was step one. And then once we did that, we started on a positioning journey for the Snapdragon brand as a first step. And then we held Qualcom back for a while. And then we started it on its own journey.

But for Snapdragon, we started working with our audiences, tech influencers, enthusiasts, our Snapdragon insiders. Around the world, we did research, quantitative and qualitative. And to say, what does Snapdragon stand for? What should it stand for? And how do we express the brand now that it’s by itself again? And we got a lot of great feedback from consumers around the world. And that started us off on the positioning of the brand, which we’re going to introduce an evolution of that here at Snapdragon Summit. That’s the evolution of the brand.

But from a perspective of building it with consumers, we started out in China with Snapdragon. I mean the whole brand, the name, the color, the fireball, all was purposefully built to start in the Asian marketplace and then expand outwards. In China, we have 87% total brand awareness for Snapdragon in China. It’s one of the highest consumer brand awarenesses of any product line or any brand in China. In India, it’s 82. In Southeast Asia it’s 84. And we’re growing it now in Latin America and around the world, including in Europe and in the US. We’re well on our way.

Patrick Moorhead: Yeah, it’s really impressive what you’ve been able to do, particularly where you’ve been focused. And it’s interesting, an American based company knowing and being mature about where they need, because I’ve happened to have tracked for the last 30 years to see how processor companies do this. And they always start in the US and then they go out.

It’s very unique and that 87% is an astounding number. And congratulations. Now, there’s awareness, there’s familiarity, there’s actions. Taking them all the way down the curve gets to this week. Big announcement this week, Snapdragon 8 Gen 2. How is the community reacting to the announcement?

Don McGuire: Lots of anticipation. Nothing’s ever secret in this industry. Leaks always come out ahead of time. Which is okay because as they say, there’s no such thing as bad PR, I guess. But there’s been lots of anticipation. We’ve seen lots of chats, we’ve seen lots of people tweeting about it. They’re excited about the improvements, the evolution of the platform. This 8 Gen 2 is a monumental improvement. Over 8 Gen 1 and even a significant improvement over 8 Gen 1 Plus.

Patrick Moorhead: Yes. 40 X AI improvement.

Don McGuire: Yeah, it’s crazy. The engineering teams has been working really, really hard. And this is a leap forward. I mean this, when you see the performance metrics that we’ve seen, both internally and even externally through N22 and others, it’s pretty impressive that 8 Gen 2 is going to blow everything else out of the water.

And imitation is the best form of flattery. We see what’s going on with our competitors out there and bring it on. And we’re just excited to be here a little early this year announcing 8 Gen 2. But the AI performance, camera, gaming, even connectivity and some of the other table stake features have all improved significantly.

Patrick Moorhead: Well, Don, one of the biggest differentiators that I see is you’re not a company that A, what you put on the slides is what you deliver. Okay. And you don’t just show up with a bag of parts. You have hardware, you have software, you do all the ecosystem work down the line. I can pretty much bank what you announced in either November and December, probably going to see around March or April or something like that. And it happens to correspond with what you actually said it would be.

I don’t see your competitors doing that now. I’m actually feeling pretty good that your premium and your premium snapdragon strategy is going to work for another year. Because quite frankly, all I’ve seen is more designs move your way. You’ve made a huge investment in it. And you can’t do this without marketing.

Don McGuire: That’s right.

Patrick Moorhead: I know the engineers love to think that…

Don McGuire: Build it and they will come.

Patrick Moorhead: Put a good product out there and it’s just going to fly off the shelves. Well, it’s a little bit harder than that because if you don’t surface what’s special, what’s new, what actually connects with the buyer, you’re just, it’s going to sit on the shelf.

Don McGuire: Yeah. Well, on one side, from a consumer perspective, we’re now experience led. We don’t talk about speeds and feeds. We don’t talk about tech specs. We talk about what is this tiny platform inside of this amazing device going to do for me? Why is my camera experience so much better? Why is my gaming experience so much faster? Why is my sound amazing?

And that’s what the platform delivers is these experiences. That’s on one side. On the other side, competition is tough. It’s fierce. It’s never been fiercer. Especially in this category. And we’re entering new categories with Snapdragon that we’re not the incumbent, that we’re not the leader. We’re building and we’re the underdog.

Automotive, we were not an incumbent in automotive. And PC. In some cases, we’re maintaining and building on our leadership. And in other cases we’re entering new markets, which is quite a different exercise. But the power of brand cannot be underestimated in highly competitive markets because oftentimes, it’s the thing that actually gives you the edge.

And when I heard our finance team say that to me one day, the thing that’s keeping us in the game is our brand in a lot of ways. I was like, “Right on.” Everyone’s starting to get it. This is a company that’s been rooted in engineering, but it’s great to have Cristiano as a partner on this journey because he believes in the power of marketing. And so it’s been fun.

Daniel Newman: Did you have them write that down, create a quote, put it on your wall?

Don McGuire: Came and spoke at my all hands and said it.

Daniel Newman: I mean, the CMOs are often under the most pressure just because a lot of times, especially in B2B type of industries or the way you’re… And you actually reinvented. You’re like, “No, we’re going to go to the end customer.” And I was like, “Ooh, that’s hard. Let’s not do that. We’ve got all our OEMs, we’ve got our partners. Let’s just push things through the channel.”

And you made a bold risk. In fact, we were in your paddock club at the F1. You’ve been expanding partnerships, putting your name on Formula One cars. You’ve been partnering with Manchester United. I mean, talk a little bit about this partner strategy, because again, it fits that brand strategy okay, Is this really money well spent? Yeah, but it seems like it is. Or you’re starting to see that it’s going to be a good thing long term.

Don McGuire: Yeah, we’re starting to see great results. First of all, I’m never going to have the budgets to go do a bunch of traditional advertising. And nor should we. I think that would be a waste of money. You’ll get big reach and frequency, but you’re not going to get moved down the funnel to your earlier point, Pat.

But these partnerships that are very, very strategically thought through and have to deliver on certain objectives. First of all, I’m not interested in just slapping my logo on something for the sake of slapping my logo on something. These have to have, there has to be business relationships. There has to be technology integration opportunities for us to help that partner digitally transform themselves, or their team, or their entity, or their campus, or their stadium, or whatever that might be.

And then the brand building opportunities for Snapdragon for that category and align with that category. Whether it’s, “Hey, we’re going to be able to scale insiders faster by partnering with this entity.” Or, “Hey, we’re going to be able to move our technology story faster.” All these objectives have to be met. We’ve very, very strategically chosen the partners that we have from Scuderia Ferrari to Manchester United to ESL and our Snapdragon Pro Series mobile eSports competition.

All these are very purposeful. And it’s not about having a big bucket of money that I can just go throw my logo on something. I’m not Coca-Cola. I can’t do that. It’s really about bringing what we call branded technology partnerships into the marketing mix, where we’re not going to be more traditional as some brands would be. And spending a bunch of money on TV advertising for example. Yeah.

Daniel Newman: Yeah. Don, I want to thank you so much for joining us here at the Snapdragon Summit 2022 in Maui, Pat.

Patrick Moorhead: I know.

Daniel Newman: It’s always fun to chat to him and as a couple of Formula One guys, I do have to say that I like that they jumped in with Ferrari. How about you?

Patrick Moorhead: Oh, I mean, are you kidding me? Like I said, it’s the only ticket I beg for.

Daniel Newman: Yeah. Well, it was a great time and thanks for having us.

Don McGuire: Who do you like in Abu Dhabi?

Patrick Moorhead: Sorry?

Don McGuire: Who do you like in Abu Dhabi?

Patrick Moorhead: I mean it’s mad.

Don McGuire: With Mercedes going one, two, and Brazil.

Patrick Moorhead: It is shocking, the competition is it amazing. And I mean, Max doesn’t need to win anymore and take any big risks. I’d like to see Ferrari and Mercedes put it in there in Abu Dhabi.

Don McGuire: Me too. Little edge on Ferrari.

Patrick Moorhead: Yeah.

Daniel Newman: Well, I think for a lot of good reasons you might pick Ferrari. I’ll say Charles.

Don McGuire: There you go, Charles. There you go.

Daniel Newman: That’s going to be my bet for the next week. And obviously I’m being a good sport for that we have Don here.

Don McGuire: That’s right.

Daniel Newman: But Don, thanks so much for joining us.

Don McGuire: Thanks for having me.

Daniel Newman: Hey, everyone, thanks so much for tuning in to this episode. And if you liked what you saw here, don’t only hit that subscribe button, but join us for the other eight episodes. We did nine. And this Snapdragon Summit had a ton of good launches, surprises, technology, and all these conversations brought something a little bit different. For Patrick, for myself, thanks for tuning in. We’ll see you all later.


Author Information

Daniel is the CEO of The Futurum Group. Living his life at the intersection of people and technology, Daniel works with the world’s largest technology brands exploring Digital Transformation and how it is influencing the enterprise.

From the leading edge of AI to global technology policy, Daniel makes the connections between business, people and tech that are required for companies to benefit most from their technology investments. Daniel is a top 5 globally ranked industry analyst and his ideas are regularly cited or shared in television appearances by CNBC, Bloomberg, Wall Street Journal and hundreds of other sites around the world.

A 7x Best-Selling Author including his most recent book “Human/Machine.” Daniel is also a Forbes and MarketWatch (Dow Jones) contributor.

An MBA and Former Graduate Adjunct Faculty, Daniel is an Austin Texas transplant after 40 years in Chicago. His speaking takes him around the world each year as he shares his vision of the role technology will play in our future.


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