Company: Microsoft Corp.
Years in current job: 11
Quote: "Overall, we are on the lunatic fringe of trying to do everything digital, particularly for business audiences. The wonderful thing about selling to IT professionals and developers is we know where they are—they're on the Web—and they're giving you feedback 24/7."
Mich Mathews, who has served as senior VP-central marketing group at Microsoft Corp. for 11 years, took a hard look at her marketing organization at the beginning of the year and decided it was time to make some changes.
"If I'm critical of anything in the past, it has been managing our agencies, where we give them a brief, particularly in a complex b-to-b case such as cloud computing or IT infrastructure, then sit at the other side of the table and wait for them to give us a presentation," she said. "I realized that we were doing some of our very best creative work when we're in the kitchen with our agencies."
So in February, Mathews reorganized Microsoft's marketing department, naming David Webster chief strategy officer and Gayle Troberman chief creative officer, to work more closely with its agency partners, including Crispin Porter+Bogusky, Boulder, Colo.; Deutsch New York; JWT New York; and Wunderman New York.
"David and Gayle have institutional knowledge," Mathews said. "So it has really helped shape our ability to get a creative idea and land it the first time around."
The newly reorganized group got to work right away, partnering with Microsoft's agencies on campaigns for Windows 7, a new version of Office and cloud computing solutions.
"I am superhappy with the work," Mathews said. "We launched a cloud campaign in March [created by JWT New York] designed to educate customers about the breadth of our cloud offerings. The speed at which we decided to do it, got with the agency and wrestled with options—we were significantly more agile than before [the reorganization]."
The cloud computing campaign, "We're All In," included print and online ads showing how Microsoft is offering Internet-based solutions for its various software products, including Exchange, Office, SQL Server and Windows.
$137.8B U.S. ad spend for top 200 advertisers
In addition to buying paid media, Microsoft also did more with "earned" media this year, Mathews said, referring to free media or publicity through social media or publishing partnerships. "In some sense, we became kind of a publishing model, where we would buy media and also use earned media adjacent to the paid media on a site with partnerships."
Mathews said Microsoft has a "rapid response" unit that creates ads and contextually relevant content based on real-time news."If Oracle put their prices up, we would immediately create an SQL ad and put a story up around Oracle raising its prices," she said. "This is a model we can scale in 31 markets. It is no minor thing to change from a media procurement arm to an organization that is agile and is changing its media strategy."
Another big marketing effort for Mathews this year was the continuation of the company's ad campaign for Windows 7, aimed primarily at consumers but also business users.
The Windows 7 campaign was created by Crispin, Porter+Bogusky and included TV, print, online and out-of-home.
Mathews said marketing to Microsoft's installed base of customers for Windows and Office presented some challenges.
"There are unusual challenges in both businesses, where the biggest competitor is yourself," she said. "You have to give the customer very powerful reasons to upgrade their machines or update their desktop."
So far, the Windows 7 marketing effort is paying off, with more than 175 million licenses to date, Mathews said. "It's the fastest-growing operating system in Microsoft's history."