Creative Retooled in Wake of Terrorist Attacks

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NEW YORK ( -- Microsoft Corp.'s long anticipated global launch of Windows XP is two weeks away, but
See office workers levitating for Windows XP.
the multimillion-dollar campaign for the new computer operating system has already begun.

Preliminary ads broke today in USA Today and in November monthly magazines such as Ziff-Davis Media's Yahoo! Internet Life. Interpublic Group of Cos.' McCann-Erickson Worldwide, San Francisco, created the campaign.

Microsoft will debut Windows XP at a high-profile event in New York Oct. 25 with Bill Gates, the company's chairman and chief software architect.

The print, TV, online and outdoor campaign, for which Microsoft has pledged $200 million for the four-month launch phase, carries the tagline "Yes you can." The ads feature the XP's signature look, which Microsoft refers to as the "bliss screen" -- a bright blue sky with cottony white clouds and a green field.

$1 billion budget scrapped
Microsoft and its partners had planned to spend an estimated $1 billion on global advertising

The 'bliss screen': blue sky, green fields.
and marketing, but that figure has been reduced modestly in light of the economic slowdown, particularly among Microsoft's partners Intel Corp., Dell Computer Corp. and others. The tag "Prepare to fly" was also scrapped, and the tone of some copy was retooled in light of the Sept. 11 attacks.

"Certainly we stepped back and looked at the tone and the content of our marketing. We've made some modifications, and that's the right thing to do," said Stephanie Ferguson, director of the Microsoft's PC Experience, Solutions Marketing Group.

Computers loaded with XP are already at retail. The operating system "enables people to do so much, ranging from digital photography to wireless computing and video-conferencing," Ms. Ferguson said.

Round the world focus groups
Microsoft and the McCann team began working on the Windows XP campaign in March, traveling all over the world speaking to consumers and business customers. The effort was a complicated one since the product targets both audiences.

"Some people saw the appeal of the product in the left brain,"

Click to see image of larger creative.

Ms. Ferguson said, adding that those customers wanted to know why they should upgrade to the new operating system. Others, she said, saw it from a more right-brain perspective: "It's about doing things the way they want, whenever they want it.

Print ads focus on the Windows XP experience of reliablity and the system's features. Outdoor, including billboards, wallscapes and wild postings, in 15 major metropolitan areas breaks Oct. 15.

Prime-time network TV spots also debut Oct. 15. There are two 15-second teaser spots, one 60- and two 30-second spots that feature the Madonna song "Ray of Light," to give the product a more inspirational feel. One 30-second spot focuses on the home user, the other on business users. Three features are highlighted: digital photography, music and movies.

Online advertising on major sites starts Oct. 25. IT professionals are targeted early next year in trade magazines.

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