Microsoft readies new court-inspired ads

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Microsoft Corp., just a day after a judge's ruling to split up the software giant, is poised to break new advertising that will plead its case to the public. A print ad will run June 9 and a TV spot debuts June 11.

The print ad will appear in the form of an open letter from Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates and President-CEO Steve Ballmer, discussing the company's approach to the appeals process and the new chapter in the long-running antitrust case it represents. Copy says: "It's important for people to understand that this week's ruling is not the final word in the lawsuit. We are confident that the appellate courts will affirm that Microsoft's business practices and efforts to build innovative software--mostly notably our efforts to improve the Windows operating system so it works well with the Internet--have been good for consumers and thus entirely lawful."

The letter continues to suggest the court's ruling doesn't reflect the realities of the marketplace or the software industry and that the appeal will address procedural issues that denied Microsoft a "fair and reasonable opportunity to respond to the government's constantly shifting case."

The letter concludes on an upbeat note, articulating that the future is "filled with amazing opportunities."

The ad will run in The New York Times, San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, The Seattle Times, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and The Washington Times.

On June 11, Mr. Gates will return to the airwaves in a new 30-second TV spot conveying his company's vision of the future and exciting, new software tools.

The commercial, titled "Vision,'' represents Mr. Gates' second TV message since the Microsoft was ruled a "monopoly power" April 3 by U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson.

In the new TV spot, Mr. Gates doesn't refer to the antitrust case. Instead, he speaks directly to viewers, saying: "The next generation of software is being developed right here. It will understand your voice, anticipate your needs, protect your privacy and connect you to the Internet wherever you are. It will help your children learn and give businesses new tools to succeed in the coming digital world." The message continues, "We've been writing great software for the past 25 years. It's what we're all about. It's our passion and it will always be. The best is yet to come."

The spot will run for a week in prime time on network programming.

McCann-Erickson/A&L, San Francisco and New York, created the Microsoft advertising.

Judge Jackson on June 7 issued his final ruling in the antitrust case, calling for a breakup of Microsoft into two pieces: an applications company and an operating system entity. Wasting no time on the heels of the decision, Mr. Gates appeared on numerous TV news programs following the decision and answered reporters' questions. He appeared relaxed and confident, and vowed to appeal the decision.

Copyright June 2000, Crain Communications Inc.

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