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Microsoft puts emphasis online

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Microsoft Corp. last month unveiled an integrated advertising campaign for Office 2007, which it is billing as one of the most significant launches in the history of the product.

The campaign budget was undisclosed, but Microsoft said it is allocating 60% of the budget to online. In contrast, Microsoft allocated about 30% of the marketing budget to online for the last major Office campaign in 2005, called "New Era." The latest version of the product was Office 2003.

"This is the first version of the product in the last 10 years with significant improvements to the user experience," said Rachel Bondi, senior director of brand and ad strategy for Microsoft Office, pointing to new advanced features in Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook, which are all part of the Office Suite.

"With the campaign, we really wanted to use digital to let users experience the product."

McCann Worldgroup, San Francisco, created the campaign, which has the tagline "It's a new day. It's a new Office." It includes print, online and outdoor ads, as well as a relaunched Web site at www.office2007.com.

An entirely new Office

"The challenge was all about convincing office workers everywhere that this is an entirely new and different Microsoft Office," said John McNeil, exec VP-executive creative director at McCann Worldgroup, San Francisco. "So the campaign needed to be all about engagement—to get IWs [information workers] online, engaging with the brand and experiencing the demos."

Bondi said there are about 450 million Office end-users worldwide, and the campaign is targeting about 150 million of those. "These early adopters are information workers and people who use technology at work and at home," Bondi said.

As part of the launch, Microsoft ran a "takeover" of the MSN homepage on April 19. A banner at the top of the page displayed Microsoft Office's Fluent user interface, which allowed visitors to change the fonts and images on MSN.com, just as they would within the Office 2007 system.

Banner ads also allow users to experience the product. The ads, running on sites including those of CNET, CNN, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and YouTube, show features of the product that allow users to manipulate data within the banners.

For example, a new feature of PowerPoint called conditional formatting allows users to apply coloring and imagery to highlight numbers. The banner ads allow users to experiment with conditional formatting within the ads.

"A big part of it is about driving people to the Web, with all our activities," Bondi said.

Print ads, which are running in publications including Forbes, Newsweek, The New York Times, USA Today and The Wall Street Journal, depict the concept of a "new day." The ads show people on their way to work, standing in front of recognizable landmarks such as the Brooklyn Bridge and Eiffel Tower.

"It is still a big part of the campaign to drive awareness," Bondi said. "Traditional still represents 40% of our spend. People don't necessarily know what the latest version is, so we're using print and out of home to make people aware of the product."

Innovative out-of-home demos

Microsoft is also using innovative out-of-home ads as part of the campaign. It has installed a "digital hallway" at JFK Airport in New York that contains kiosks that allow users to try the product. The kiosks also are intended to drive people to the Office Web site.

"Once they are on the Web site, we want them to do three things," Bondi said.

The first goal is to get people to watch a product demo online. The second is to get users to download a free trial and use it for 60 days. The third is to get them to watch a series of online videos.

The videos, which average two minutes in length, show humorous clips of people who need the types of product features that Office provides.

For example, one clip, called "The Quest," shows a harried office worker with an armload of files, running through an office trying to get to an appointment. He falls and the files fly all over the place.

"We were trying to identify people's pain points," Bondi said.

The online videos are designed to be viral. At the end of the clips, users can forward them to friends and colleagues. Also, 15-second versions are running on social networking sites including YouTube and iFilm.

The campaign is now running in 12 countries. A second phase will break this summer, with new print and online ads.

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