Digital VCR Records Two Programs at Once

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NEW YORK ( -- Microsoft Corp. March 7 broke the first TV spot in an estimated $50 million ad and marketing blitz for UltimateTV,
The pitch: 'Watch What You Can Do.'
a set-top digital video recorder that allows consumers to record two TV shows at the same time and pause live TV.

The spot, the first of five for UltimateTV, was created by Rodgers Townsend, St. Louis, an independent ad agency originally tapped by Microsoft to handle brand identity work but not creative. UltimateTV's agency of record is True North Communications' Foote Cone Belding, San Francisco. FCB has handled print, online, media planning and sports marketing. Media buying is handled by Interpublic Group of Cos.' Universal McCann, whose McCann-Erickson Worldwide, San Francisco, is Microsoft's agency of record.

Only a month ago, Microsoft UltimateTV executives decided to run with Rodgers' TV creative rather than FCB's because the Rodgers spots demonstrated how the product worked. FCB's creative didn't include the product demo aspect and featured a more traditional benefit-driven concept, said Beth Kachellek, director of advertising and brand management for UltimateTV.

'Experiential aspect of selling'
In the process of doing brand identity work, Microsoft "unearthed new consumer research about the experiential aspect of selling the product," Ms. Kachellek said, adding that the Rodgers' idea allowed Microsoft to show how consumers can record two TV shows at once and presented concepts more "tangibly," which would hopefully bolster retail sales.

Teaser spots for the UltimateTV system created by FCB broke a few weeks ago, as reported in the Feb. 12 edition of Advertising Age magazine. The campaign that launched today airs on national networks in prime-time, cable and syndicated programs.

One 30-second spot shows a TV screen divided into four quadrants, two of which are dedicated to the TV and the remote control, while the other two show a man and a woman going about their daily lives. Both interact with UltimateTV, showing the product in action. The spot's voice-over says: "Digitally record two shows at the same time only with UltimateTV. Watch what you can do." Each of the spots in the campaign, running into the summer, illustrates a different aspect of the product -- the simplicity of the user interface and menus, digital video recording and control of live TV.

UltimateTV, Microsoft's entry into the digital video recorder category, joins systems by TiVo and ReplayTV. The Microsoft product was supposed to hit retail shelves last October but was delayed due to manufacturing and software glitches.

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