1. Archive

See Adaptec. See Adaptec make its annual report fun

See Spot run. See Dick and Jane add up their profits.

Yes, from the folks who created an annual report in the style of a superhero comic comes one written as a children's book.

Adaptec Inc., which makes computer equipment and software, designed the report with Dick and Jane simplicity. Only in this case, it's Wally, Molly and their dog, Data, in stick-figure characters, touting the company's products.

"See Wally hard at work," the report says. "He tries to scan big photo files. He tries to move video files to his backup drives. Poor Wally. Wally thinks his new processor makes him work faster."

Turn the page, and there's Molly.

"See Molly at work," it goes on. "She is doing all the things that Wally is trying to do. Only she does them better. Molly has an Adaptec host adapter and SCSI peripherals. See Molly multi task. From her PC to peripherals, and even to her network, she really works fast."

The usual stiff pictures of company executives are replaced by childlike drawings of the chairman and chief executive that one spokesman called "a surprising likeness, actually."

"It's one of the few annual reports I've read cover to cover," spokesman Bruce Frymire said.

Adaptec's approach answers frequent complaints that the expensive, four-color glossy annual reports most companies send out are tedious at best, incomprehensible at worst.

The "Dick and Jane" format came from corporate communications manager Cole Danehower and vice president of communications Dee Cravens. They put it together with the help of San Francisco design firm Cahan & Associates.

The hard-cover edition _ 65,000 copies were printed _ is titled "ABC & D _ All About Being Connected To Data."

The inside cover has the familiar child's notation: "This Book Belongs To (Print Name). . .," then goes on to say, "This is a book about a company called Adaptec: Adaptec makes products that move information faster, so people can work, build, and create more productively."

The last few pages are the usual dry figures and tables: $700-million in annual revenues, 2,500 employees worldwide, and the like.

Response from analysts, employees, news media and stockholders has been good, Frymire said. One person asked for 100 copies for his sales staff.

"It's a unique approach. I'll give them credit for that," said analyst Jean Orr of A.G. Edwards in New York.

So with two successes, what do the company's marketing experts have in mind for next year? A trashy romance? A hard-boiled detective thriller? Or perhaps a volume of poetry?

"I'm glad to say the group already has ideas for next year," Frymire said. But in typical corporate style, he added, "I'm not going to discuss them at this time."