MICROSOFT TARGETS NCAA BASKETBALL AUDIENCE

'People-Ready' Spots Follows Similar IBM Marketing Strategy

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YORK, Pa. (AdAge.com) -- Microsoft is touting its ability to help businesses get the most from the people who work for them with a $500 million “People-Ready” campaign.
Similar to IBM's marketing strategy, Microsoft's new ads emphasize how business leaders are focusing more on using technology to drive growth rather than cuts costs.

Similar to IBM’s Strategy
Microsoft said its research shows business leaders are shifting the core focus of information technology away from how it helps cut costs to how it helps drive growth, a strategy similar to the one IBM outlined earlier this week. And, like IBM, Microsoft is running the campaign during the NCAA basketball tournament.

But Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer insists the two takes are vastly different. Although he joked about the NCAA similarity at a press conference today, he went on to say that the two are “striking in their contrasts.”

He said IBM’s message is a consulting one, advising business leaders to hire IBM to help with innovation. Microsoft’s message is about getting the IT tools to the people in the company who will be able to utilize them to make an impact.

Tying efforts together
Mich Mathews, senior VP-central marketing group for Microsoft, said that research found the “People-Ready” idea is a fundamental belief people have about Microsoft, that it is a company that empowers people. That core message will form the umbrella for all marketing efforts this year, with individual product efforts for prominent products such as Vista and Office 2007 “punctuating” the theme.

The global campaign, created by Interpublic Group of Cos.' McCann Erickson, San Francisco, will include TV, business print publications, Web, mobile phone, outdoor, direct, and events. This is only the beginning of a busy Microsoft marketing year that will include many consumer and business-to-business rollouts following three years of relative calm while $20 billion was spent in research and development.

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