Microsoft shines spotlight on IT 'Heroes'

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To kick off the largest enterprise product launch in its history, Microsoft Corp. has rolled out a $150 million global campaign with the tagline “Heroes Happen Here” aimed at software developers and IT professionals.

The campaign, developed by McCann Erickson San Francisco, includes print, online and events.

It promotes three new products for the enterprise segment—Windows Server 2008, Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 and Microsoft SQL Server 2008.

“The creative idea and business objective is to further establish ourselves as the most reliable server operating system ever delivered from Microsoft,” said Bob Visse, senior director of Microsoft’s Windows Server division.

To kick off the product launch, Microsoft hosted an event in Los Angeles on Feb. 27, during which CEO Steve Ballmer delivered a keynote address to more than 4,000 software developers, IT professionals and Microsoft business partners.

“Today, we get a chance to launch three of the most important new Microsoft products,” Ballmer said. “And I see each and every one of them as simply an enabler of the kind of heroes represented here in this room and in the IT and software development community around the world.”

During the event, videos featuring real IT customers played on large multimedia screens, showing how they work to solve business problems.

The “Heroes Happen Here” campaign is intended to drive users to 225 events being held around the world, at which they can learn about the new products.

A separate campaign, which is also part of the launch, is titled “The Server Unleashed.” The campaign, also developed by McCann Erickson, highlights specific features of the new server software, including network access protection and server core installation.

The ads feature images of a robot named “IT 24-7,” designed to demonstrate the strength and reliability of the server operating system.

For example, one ad shows the robot running down a hallway, with copy reading, “It understands two things—go and further.”

The ad calls out two product features—fallover clustering and server core technology—that help resolve IT problems.

Print and online ads drive users to a Web site at, where they can see more product features, download trial software, read customer case studies and get additional information.

“One thing that’s different since 2003 [when Windows Server was first launched] is that we didn’t buy any TV at all,” Visse said. “A significant portion of it is online, and we still have a big percent of the audience reading IT magazines, so we invest a lot in print ads. Just five years ago, we spent a lot of money on TV.”

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