For as mainstream a monolith as Microsoft, we remain amazed by what's officially known as the "Realizing Potential" print campaign, though calling it "We See" would be more to the point but, hey, it's Microsoft. It debuted in November 2002, it was shortlisted at last year's Kelly Awards, and no less an edgy design eminence than David Carson had this work top-of-mind when asked what print he liked, in a Creativity interview last year. McCann-Erickson's San Francisco office has produced 23 "Realizing Potential" executions so far, all shot by Kiran Master (www.monacoreps.com
) and illustrated by multimedia animation director and graphic designer Miles Flanagan (www.acmefilmworks.com
), and as far as the agency is concerned, there's no end in sight it may become the Absolut vodka of the software business. "We think the ideas for this campaign are as limitless as the possibilities made real thanks to technology," says ECD Dante Lombardi. So where'd the white overlay idea come from? Lombardi likens the notion behind the campaign to the children's classic Harold and the Purple Crayon "Whatever Harold draws becomes real, and we use a similar technique to explain what Microsoft sees when they look at the world" but that's not the inspiration, of course, and it's the wrong color. "There's an old documentary called The Mystery of Picasso," he adds. "Picasso sometimes stands behind a white, and you watch what he paints as he paints it, but you don't see him." Similarly, "We thought it would be cool to have a drawing of a potential future unfold over a scene of everyday life to imagine the hand that made it and the mind that made it." The ad we're leading with here goes back to the 2002 debut, and in the PDF showcase are an assortment of others from subsequent years.