Microsoft Aims to 'Change the Odds' for Girls in STEM With Latest 'Make What's Next' Initiative

A LinkedIn Career Tool and New Ad From McCann Encourages Girls to Keep Going in Tech and Science

Published On
Mar 07, 2017

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For the next phase of its "Make What's Next" campaign, which encourages girls to enter tech and science fields, Microsoft is leveling up its efforts to show girls the steps they have to take to make their STEM goals a reality.

Last year, it debuted an ad created by M:United/McCann featuring young girls talking about why they love science but failing to name any female inventors and introduced a program designed to help young women get their inventions patented. This time, a new spot from the agency asks girls what they want to change in the world and then lets them interact with some Microsoft products, like an interactive VR headset.

But the inspirational product experiences are halted when the brand tells the girls: "Odds are you won't solve any of these problems. Only 6.7% of women graduate with STEM degrees." After the girls see that, they all talk about how they can do it, and the spot ends with: "Change the world. Stay in STEM."

"There is general awareness that we have that problem," said Kathleen Hall, corporate VP of brand advertising and research, at Microsoft, "but we want to get beyond general awareness and tap into what girls, parents and educators can do it about."

The 60-second commercial will break on morning news shows such as "GMA" and "Today" show on Wednesday for International Women's Day and it will run on TV for about two weeks. A 90-second version, along with the 60-second, is slotted to run in social paid units across platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram.

To help girls take action and shift the perceptions of STEM jobs, Microsoft has partnered with LinkedIn to launch an experiential tool called Career Explorer, which goes live on on Tuesday. The tool, powered by LinkedIn, will highlight different ways STEM is in demand and show girls how to pursue their passions and skills in specific areas.

On Twitter, Microsoft will leverage the platform's "First View" conversational ads to show the spot and drive conversations online with the hashtag #MakeWhatsNext.

Additionally, on social, which will feature three 30-second videos, Microsoft will host a Facebook Live event on March 18 in partnership with National Geographic. The event will feature a female scientist who will broadcast into Microsoft stores and on social media. National Geographic personalities will also answer questions from girls live in stores in Miami, Florida; Overland Park, Kansas; Troy, Mich.; New York City, New York; Dallas, Texas; and Bellevue, Wash.

Microsoft is hoping to encourage girls to come back to stores throughout the rest of the year for its DigiGirlz Day technology events, said Ms. Hall. The programs run in cities across the U.S. and in international markets, such as Amsterdam and Egypt.

The media budget for this campaign was "low," said Ms. Hall, who added that Microsoft considers "this a social guerilla thing where we're tapping into passions."

Ms. Hall said that Microsoft wants to push for more women in creative roles as well as in STEM careers, which is why the brand is "super proud" that a large number of the M:United/McCann and production teams were comprised of women.

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