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Microsoft extends 'Agility' campaign

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Microsoft Corp., which last year launched its first major enterprise software campaign to the tune of $200 million, extended the effort this year with an integrated campaign for .NET connected software.

The new campaign, developed by McCann-Erickson, San Francisco, and launched in January with a theme line of “Software for the Agile Business,” continues the message that .NET software gives customers the ability to react quickly to threats and market conditions. But it tightens the focus even more on the enterprise market, showing how .NET connected software can be used to help enterprises connect with business partners, channel partners and employees.

“We’ve always been widely known as a leader in the desktop space, yet we need to continue to build credibility for our server products,” said Scott Lennard, director of advertising for Microsoft enterprise and server platform.

The .NET product line, which launched in 2001, includes the .NET enterprise server, mobile information server and Visual Studio .NET, a tool for building and deploying XML Web services and applications.

Although the product line was introduced in 2001, Microsoft did not break a global ad campaign introducing .NET as a business platform until 2002. That campaign, with a tagline “One Degree of Separation,” also developed by McCann, showed the benefits of using Web services to connect employees, customers and business partners.

The new campaign takes the message even further, using case studies to show how businesses are using .NET connected software to respond agilely to customer needs. The budget for the latest campaign was not disclosed.

“We recognize that when you’re talking to the enterprise customer, there are many tiers of the audience that are involved in making server decisions,” Lennard said. “We wanted to make sure this campaign recognized that there are a number of audience segments, from business decision-makers to senior IT decision-makers.”

The campaign includes three TV spots, more than a dozen print executions and dozens of online ads.

“The comprehensive range of creative units, from the high level to the granular level against vertical industries, really brings the .NET story to life,” said Michael McLaren, exec VP-director of client services at McCann in San Francisco.

“The campaign addresses the reality of the complex decision-making process audiences work through,” McLaren added. “Because there is a combination of business decision-makers and IT decision-makers working on the process of technology decisions, at various steps in the process, they’ll need different pieces of information.”

At the broad level, Microsoft launched TV spots and print ads to build awareness of the .NET connected product line, then it drilled down to specific product and technology information in print ads running in vertical trades and in online ads.

For example, one ad shows how Virgin.com uses .NET connected software to be an “agile business,” collecting information on a voluntary basis from its customers, then sending alerts to their PCs, mobile phones and other devices.

For the health care industry, Microsoft ran an ad showing how the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center uses .NET software to give clinicians fast access to patient data and test information, allowing it to potentially save $10 million to $30 million over the next eight years.

For the IT industry, Microsoft shows how Volvo is localizing volvocars.com Web sites in more than 40 markets, using .NET connected software to centralize management.

Online ads focus on even more specific examples and content, including .NET product features and benefits, targeted at IT, health care, finance, manufacturing and other industries.

“Online gives us a tremendous amount of flexibility,” McLaren said, pointing to applications such as white paper downloads on topics such as regulatory issues facing the health care industry and how .NET software can help organizations with their information needs.

Lennard said that the .NET campaign needed to address media integration issues and global integration issues when delivering its message to markets around the world.

“We have to have consistent strategic messaging that has a level of creative flexibility,” Lennard said. “It’s important to bring a local level of nuance and sensitivity to the campaign. Beyond language issues, you have to make sure you’re showing relative case studies.”

For example, in German ads, Microsoft showed how .NET software is being deployed in German operations, and it addressed issues specific to the region.

By several measures, the campaign is proving a success for Microsoft .NET products.

“Our objective is to drive server revenue, and our server revenue continues to grow each quarter,” Lennard said.

While that metric can’t be tied directly to the advertising, other metrics can. Since the campaign launched, Microsoft has gained a 15-point increase in awareness of .NET software among business IT decision-makers and a 9-point increase in consideration for .NET software among IT implementers.

“This campaign fits into the broader realization of the potential that Microsoft helps your business become more agile,” McLaren said.

Microsoft Corp.
Campaign: “.NET connected,” an extension of the “Agility” campaign
Goal: Build awareness and credibility for Microsoft’s .NET connected software in the enterprise space
Duration of campaign: January 2003 through present
Integrated elements: TV, print, online
Results: 15-point increase in awareness of .NET software among business IT decision-makers, 9-point increase in consideration for .NET software among IT implementers.
Budget: Not disclosed
Agency: McCann-Erickson, San Francisco

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