Spending on the account was undisclosed, but could be as high as $300 million or more, according to executives familiar with the assignment. Microsoft spent almost $1 billion on measured and unmeasured marketing in the U.S. alone for 2006, according to the most recent Advertising Age DataCenter analysis.
Publicis Groupe's Fallon was the other finalist in the pitch. Other competitors previously eliminated included incumbent Interpublic Group of Cos.' McCann Erickson, San Francisco, which remains lead global agency on Microsoft's account, and WPP Group's JWT.
"After a thorough review of several creative and strategic advertising agencies, Microsoft has selected Crispin Porter & Bogusky as our creative partner for an upcoming consumer marketing campaign," read a statement from Microsoft. "Crispin was chosen based on their strategic approach, the strength of their creative ideas and the passionate and diverse team of people at the agency."
Top execs put focus on consumers
The move to augment advertising resources with a consumer-focused campaign was led by top Microsoft executives, including Mich Mathews, senior VP-central marketing group, who oversees marketing communications in some 70 nations. It also follows a Valentine's Day shake-up at Microsoft that included the departure of Michael Sievert, a corporate VP responsible for Windows product marketing and the Vista operating system launch. Mr. Sievert was replaced by Brad Brooks, corporate VP, Windows Consumer Product Marketing; he was previously general manager of Windows Product.
Although details of the new assignment have not been spelled out, Rob Enderle, principal analyst, the Enderle Group, San Jose, Calif., said it comes at a time when Microsoft is about to release a fix for the poorly received Vista, a so-called Service Pack 1. Microsoft is also trying to repair its relationship with the European Union, which fined Microsoft $1.3 billion, the largest ever imposed on an individual company, and perhaps bracing for a potential proxy fight for its acquisition of Yahoo.
"Microsoft lacks marketing skills," Mr. Enderle said. "They can bring creative on board, but if it is not directed, you wind up with creative junk," he said. "It's clear to me this is not just an agency problem."
Bruised by Apple
Microsoft has a problem with the continued embarrassment caused by Apple's "Mac vs. PC" ad campaign, Mr. Enderle said. "It is unprecedented in this industry -- and most -- where one company makes fun of a competitor for a long period of time successfully," he said. The last time that happened was when carmaker Isuzu poked fun of Porsche. But never did Porsche's quality come into question, only that Isuzu presented a better deal, he said.
"This one does far more damage. It does go in and disparage the Microsoft operating system pretty solidly," he said.