Microsoft touts e-business wares

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Microsoft Corp. is putting the final touches on an ad push that's expected to tout leadership in providing software products and services for the e-commerce operations of large businesses.

Just weeks away, the multimedia campaign, created by McCann-Erickson Worldwide, San Francisco, will position Microsoft offerings as enterprise-ready. The company's Windows 2000 enterprise server family is expected to be a cornerstone of the effort.

A budget could not be confirmed. However, last year Microsoft spent more than $100 million on its "Business Internet" campaign targeting information technology professionals, knowledge workers and chief executives. That effort sought to paint Microsoft as a helpful guide for companies trying to figure out how to put their businesses on the Web.

Then in February, Microsoft introduced Windows 2000 Professional, a product that remains a focus of advertising.

The effort, likely to include TV, print and online, also will begin to flag Microsoft's .NET strategy of Web-delivered software applications and services, introduced by the company's executives in June.

Besides messages supporting specific server products and their ability to work together, Microsoft's enterprise-oriented campaign also is expected to highlight customer experiences.

The .NET enterprise servers, such as BizTalk 2000 and others, are used as proof points in Microsoft's strategy. The push continues to promote Windows 2000 products, but also begins setting the stage for .NET products and services.

KEY ALLIANCES

Microsoft executives declined to comment for this article.

In recent weeks, the company has rolled out a major series of print ads showcasing alliances with key partners such as chip maker Intel Corp. that help build its case for the enterprise. The Intel ad, for example, seeks to illustrate that by using Microsoft/Intel-based technologies, businesses are assured of a robust infrastructure for e-commerce. The approach targets the same decision makers who would evaluate Sun Microsystems products, but doesn't take direct aim at the Microsoft rival.

FOLLOWING IBM'S EXAMPLE

Additional partner executions will include Compaq Computer Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co. In doing so, Microsoft takes a page from IBM Corp., which earlier this year began touting strategic partnerships with Siebel Systems and more recently, the Ariba business-to-business exchange.

Indeed, Microsoft's enterprise advertising may soon take on an IBM-esque feel. Scott Lennard, newly installed as director of business advertising at Microsoft, comes directly from the IBM account at Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, New York.

In addition to ramping up its enterprise advertising, Microsoft over the last few months has also been mulling a global brand project led by Mich Mathews, VP-marketing.

The project is said to involve everything from corporate positioning to identity and logo. The company has approached several agencies and consultancies as it gathers data to support its plans, according to a person familiar with the situation.

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