MICROSOFT PROMISES A 'USEFUL' MSN 7

New Global Campaign Touts Upgrade's User-Friendliness

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Microsoft Corp. today breaks a global brand campaign for its MSN Internet service that's designed to show consumers just how useful it is to help juggle everyday activities.

The multimillion-dollar print, TV and online push, which marks year two of Microsoft's global brand efforts for MSN, flags popular functions such as e-mail, instant messaging, shopping and financial transactions.

The campaign, created by Interpublic Group of Cos.' McCann-Erickson Worldwide, San Francisco, comes on the heels of Microsoft's latest upgrade to MSN, dubbed MSN 7. AOL Time Warner's America Online launched AOL 7.0 the same week, as well as a new ad campaign.

'Useful' campaign
The first of several TV spots for MSN breaks tonight in prime-time network TV touting the new "useful" positioning. A 30-second "Wakeup" introductory spot strikes a fast-paced, upbeat tone and shows all the things consumers can use MSN for in their daily lives.

The spot will be followed by at least six more executions revo9lving around specific scenarios. One features a man in a carpool. He's reminded it's his turn to drive on his MSN calendar and he gets traffic alerts via MSN Mobile on his PocketPC.

The campaign also marks the debut of a new tagline: "More Useful Everyday." Previous advertising featured the themes "Make it Your Hom" and "The Everyday Web." MSN said its research showed that consumers responded well to the idea of the Internet as a useful tool that makes life easier.

"We wanted to

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bring all the main MSN services together and show how they're easy to use and reinforce the fact that Microsoft technology is part of the services," said Eric Hadley, director of advertising for MSN.

Bicycle shopping
Print ads break this week in news and entertainment magazines and daily newspapers and feature the MSN butterfly icon, along with simple icons for e-mail and other MSN services. For example, one ad shows someone shopping for a bicycle for a trip in Tuscany using MSN to search and shop for a touring bike, find scenic cycling routes and chat in real time with potential riding partners. The copy reads, in part: "Built with advanced Microsoft technology and tuned for Broadband, MSN has the most popular e-mail and search, plus shopping, music and top-ranked finance."

"Where we were last year was highlighting the functionality of the specific services. Now we're showing how MSN can be used in a daily situation," said Michael McLaren, executive vice president for client service at McCann.

MSN spent an estimated $25 million in 2000 in measured media in the U.S. and $6 million from January to July of this year, according to Taylor Nelson Sofres' CMR. Mr. Hadley said spending on the new brand push is comparable to last year's.

Switching ISPs
MSN's effort to lure AOL subscribers, known as the "switcher" campaign, has run since late May and continues this fall with a new crop of print ads breaking in newspapers and magazines.

Microsoft said it has earmarked $50 million for the ads and promotional programs. Copy in one print ad reads: "There are things you just grow out of. AOL is one of them." The promotion offers consumers three months of free MSN Internet access.

The company's bid to capture AOL defectors has brought its Internet access subscribers to 7 million in the U.S.; nearly 80% of new subscribers to MSN come from other Internet service providers and nearly half of them came to MSN from AOL, according to Microsoft. AOL has 24 million users in the U.S. The switcher campaign runs through next year.

With the launch of MSN 7, Microsoft also announced the availability of nationwide broadband MSN service. On Oct. 25, new MSN Broadband customers will have the option of receiving two months of free MSN Broadband Internet Access, free activation and a free installation kit.

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