Power Players 2009

Microsoft's Mich Mathews Is Ad Age's No. 21 Power Player

Redmond Gets Its Marketing Game Going With Bing and 'I'm a PC' Efforts

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Last Year
THE POWER: While other brands pulled back in the face of a weak economy, Microsoft continued to invest -- in the Bing, Windows and "I'm a PC" pushes. All the new launches have made longtime Softie Mich Mathews an even more important exec at the company. She oversees all branding, advertising, public relations, research, events, packaging, relationship marketing and internal communications, and she reports to Chief Operating Officer Kevin Turner. Microsoft still struggles with the cool factor, though recent marketing efforts have at least resulted in some progress.

THE NUMBERS: The economy hurt Microsoft's revenue in its 2008 fiscal year, which ended June 30. It was down 3%, with a particularly harsh fourth quarter, thanks to "PC market weakness." But PC shipments crawled up in third quarter 2009, which should spell good news for the company. Bing got off to a good start, its share gaining 15% in its first five months, per ComScore; a forthcoming deal to power Yahoo's search engine will give it close to 30% market share, up from its current 9.4% share. Measured-marketing spend nearly doubled over the first half of 2009, to $243 million. Full-year 2008 spend was $351 million, per TNS.

THE KEY LIEUTENANTS: Right hands include David Webster, general manager of brand marketing, and Gayle Troberman, general manager of consumer engagement and advertising. Michael Delman is also a key marketer, as corporate VP-global marketing of the interactive entertainment business, with oversight of Xbox and Zune.

THE CHALLENGE: A new OS, Windows 7, looks markedly better than the disastrous Vista, and the company is counting on it to fuel PC sales in 2010. The most high-profile competition comes from Google, and Microsoft is aggressively attacking it with Bing. But advertising alone won't build it into a viable competitor; distribution deals like the pending search agreement with Yahoo will make the difference.

THE AGENCIES: Recent account shifts have largely seen business go out of Interpublic's McCann Erickson to the likes of MDC Partners' Crispin Porter & Bogusky and WPP's JWT. Interpublic's Universal McCann handles all media. WPP's Wunderman handles direct, and Publicis' Razorfish is one of its key digital agencies.

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