McCann cranks out dozens of ads for Microsoft Network in Japan

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TOKYO - Bit by bit, week by week, McCann-Erickson Worldwide is trying to sell the Internet to an increasingly wired Japan and promote the Microsoft Network as the portal of choice.

In the two months since it wrestled the account from Japanese ad giant Dentsu, McCann has sent to air 23 different commercials for Microsoft Network in Japan (

The idea of the campaign is simple -- sell the Internet by showing all that it can do. That translates into a new 15-second TV ad each week that pitches one of the numerous things a user can do on the Microsoft portal.

There have been spots with charity auctions featuring a popular Japanese soccer player, Net cam shots of a part time worker using a chat room late at night and a young female office worker saying how she has given up looking at match making sites and has gotten rich on a financial site.

The list of ads of goes on and will grow in the New Year.

"It is impossible to show the variety of the Internet in one ad. Each week we are making a new spot that features a part of the Net available through MSN and each week we are getting a response," says Naoki Morita, a creative director at McCann who is heading the campaign.

According to industry surveys, the number of unique users to MSN has increased by about 125 percent since the campaign started and brand awareness has also shot up. In the months that Dentsu held the campaign, the two figures barely budged.

The MSN homepage itself does not appear in the spots because non-computer users might be turned off by seeing an ad for a service they do not completely understand. The campaign tries to show all that is available on the Net in terms of information, services and entertainment, and then shows MSN as the place that has it all.

MSN redesigned its Japan portal page as part of the campaign. The new design features more special events and a greater variety of services as the company expanded its original target market from businessmen to the general Internet user.

The stakes in the world's second-largest economy of Japan are high as the Internet market lags about two to three years in its development behind North America and Europe. The king of the hill in the market is Yahoo! Japan, which has an awareness rate of 70 percent.

"The campaign shows that the Net is borderless and all the possibilities of the Net for the single user accessing the service," Mr. Morita says.

Copyright December 2000, Crain Communications Inc.

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