Live Sessions Scheduled for Malls, Race Tracks, Arenas

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Television ads for Microsoft Corp.'s UltimateTV, a set-top digital video recorder that allows consumers to record two TV shows at the same time and pause live TV,
Microsoft targets sports junkies for UltimateTV.
began rolling on March 7, but retail and event marketing won't get underway until mid-April.

Sam Klepper, senior director of corporate marketing and sales for UltimateTV, said that apart from the TV spots, which were created by Rodgers Townsend, St. Louis, Microsoft will support UltimateTV with a series of home, mall and live retail demonstrations in 10 undisclosed markets as part of an estimated $50 million ad and marketing blitz.

Hands-on experience
The grassroots campaign is designed to give consumers a hands-on experience with the product, which requires two satellite feeds and Internet connections to demonstrate it. At retail outlets, Microsoft will deploy UltimateTV personnel on weekends to demonstrate the system, while a series of live demos are also planned at arenas and race tracks to target sports fans. Mobile billboards for UltimateTV and wild postings will hit the 10 markets. Seismicom, San Francisco, is coordinating promotional events and demos.

Mr. Klepper said the field is wide open for UltimateTV, even though TiVo and ReplayTV digital video recorders and services are already on the market.

"Our research found that most people are very unaware of both the name [digital video recorders] and the functionality -- there's not a lot of understanding of what they do," he said.

Engaging the sports fan
With UltimateTV, consumers can pause live TV, access instant replays, receive stats from the Internet and watch two games at once with the product's picture-in-picture function.

Microsoft will hype these and other features to sports junkies by partnering with NASCAR tracks in key markets for on-site demos. UltimateTV signs and banners will appear at the tracks, and the company also will tap drivers to act as spokespeople. UltimateTV also plans to team up with select National Football League teams for demos at NFL Experience venues. In fact, UltimateTV was at this year's Super Bowl, along with DirecTV and other partners.

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