If you haven’t seen Ashton Kutcher enough in “Two and a Half Men” you will see him even more as he touts Lenovo Yogas for the Holiday season. And the world’s top PC maker will be bending over backwards with more advertising and promotion than before in a bid to drive more sales across North America.

So says Jay Parker, Lenovo’s top executives for the North America operations, in a phone interview from his office in Morrisville just after Lenovo released its latest earnings.

“We’re already No. 1 in the U.S. for 2-in-1 device sales and we intend to drive that even harder this holiday season,” Parker says, brimming with confidence. “You’ll see us more that what you’re used to. We are making a big play for sales.”

The IBM x86 server sale closed last month and some 2,000 IBMers in the Triangle have joined Lenovo. That integration continues as Lenovo begins selling the System X brand. The Motorola deal is closed as well, but that group will operate as a separate subsidiary and is not part of Parker’s responsibilities, he notes. So his focus remains PCs, tablets and servers.

Talking PCs, Tablets

Kutcher, who works with Lenovo on tablets as an engineer and also lends his Hollywood stature in advertising, is a key part of Lenovo’s marketing stragtegy. While Kutcher has focused in the past on one type of Yoga – strictly tablets – he’s “also helping us sign the virtues of the new Yoga Pro.”

To clarify: Lenovo offers Yoga tablets and Yoga 2-in-1s, which are devices that can be literally split into a laptop and a tablet.

Confusing? Well, yes. 

Even Lenovo sometimes trips up on the differences, Parker notes with a chuckle.

But Kutcher isn’t the only advertising play. Lenovo is also partnering with Microsoft to drive Yoga 2-in-1 sales.

The flagship is the Yoga 3 Pro, which retails at just under $1,300.

Parker is focusing on year-end sales after Lenovo wrapped up its most recent quarter with earnings results announced earlier Thursday. He notes that Lenovo gained “about a third of a point” in PC market share in his area of responsibility. Just as important, however, is the fact Lenovo also grew its profit margin by a point.

“We’re growing earnings even better than revenue,” he stresses. Margins are razor thin in hardware, one reason why HP is splitting off its own PC division.

But PCs remain essential to Lenovo’s success, and the 2-in-1 Yoga is a reflection of that importance.

Tablets are growing in importance as well. Lenovo Chairman and CEO Yang Yuanqing pointed out in the earnings report that Lenovo is now No. 1 in combined PC and tablet sales, having surpassed Apple.

Research firm IDC reported last week that Lenovo ranks No. 4 in tablets with quarterly shipments of 3 million, up 31 percent from a year earlier. 

Lenovo sales did decline a bit quarter-to-quarter, but Parker says that was expected. “Apple is huge in the education business,” he explains. “They tend to pull ahead a little bit in the fall.” Year-to-year results is “more important” and Lenovo did make some progress, he adds.

A key driver for Lenovo this holiday season as well is premium-equipped and higher priced PC machines, according to Parker.

As if he wasn’t busy enough, Parker is also helping to manage the integration of the IBM server business. Read more about that in this related post.

Another Big Push: Servers

While PC, 2-in-1s and tablets are nice and the consumer attention getters, Parker points out that Lenovo is banking heavily on its x86 acquisition, which cost some $2.1 billion.

The heart of that former IBM group was right here in RTP and has been transplanted. So far, so good, but the pressure is on.

“Our chairman and CEO says that he intends to grow the server business to $5 billion and that it will deliver more profit than PCs,” Parker explains. 

So servers are “definitely at the top of the priority list.”

As Lenovo integrates its own server manufacturing engineering, supply chain and sales groups with those from IBM, Parker explains that many basics had to be accomplished first.

“We’re a little more than 30 days in,” he says. “Job No. 1 was making sure that everyone had an email address, a phone number, and knew who their contacts were – the mundane kind of things that can get overlooked in a merger.”

Now it’s time to drive sales.

“We couldn’t be happier with the product line coming over,” Parker says.

That’s good because Lenovo aims to be No. 1 in server sales just as it is in PCs – and hopes to be in smartphones someday through the Motorola deal. And Parker says his area of responsibility is crucial to Lenovo’s server ambitions.

“North America needs to be a large player in what we are doing,” Parker explains. After all, “the United States is the largest server market.”