New Microsoft Ads Stress Savings Derived From Software

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Microsoft's latest ad campaign will try to convince businesses that software can save them money even in a turbulent economy.

The ads, carrying the theme "It's Everybody's Business," feature interviews with executives at companies such as Coca-Cola and clothing retailer Quicksilver, which expound on how good software keeps them competitive.

One of the video advertisements is posted on Microsoft's PressPass Web site The ad features Quicksilver CEO Robert McKnight, who talks about how IT helps manage assets and enables his business move to "at the speed of light."

Print, TV and online versions of the ads are being created. The new campaign is much more focused and on-message than Microsoft's bizarre, inscrutable consumer campaign featuring comedian Jerry Seinfeld and company founder Bill Gates from last September.

That US$300 million campaign was intended to spur interest in Windows Vista. But it was cancelled after about two weeks in the wake of criticism that the ads were neither funny nor gave people compelling reasons to buy a Windows PC.

Microsoft's latest efforts are intended to counter slowing demand this year for IT products due to a struggling world economy.

Although Microsoft's operating systems and Office productivity software are widely used worldwide, the downturn could have a stronger negative effect on other enterprise software systems Microsoft also produces, including business intelligence, communications and customer relationship management software. Increased productivity has been a key theme for Microsoft in promoting newer software such as Windows Vista and Office.

The new ads were produced cheaply, Microsoft said. The ads are animated, and the executives were interviewed by phone. The campaign was produced by ad agency JWT. Microsoft sought to distance the new campaign from the failed one, created by the agency Crispin Porter & Bogusky.

"People may want to compare the two campaigns, but they target different audiences with different messages and completely different approaches," according to Gayle Troberman, general manager of Microsoft's advertising and customer engagement team.

Microsoft said it is being careful about how it spends its marketing budget. The company also implied it has been paying lower ad rates lately, which should allow it get more value for its ad spend.

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