Microsoft Launches $250 Mil. Campaign

A few months after breaking an interna tional effort for its MSN Explorer browser, Microsoft this week said it kicks off its largest campaign to date: a $250 million push for all of its software products.

The work, targeting IT professionals and businesses, will be supported by about half the Redmond, Wash., client’s annual worldwide ad budget. Four 30-second TV spots, from McCann-Erickson/A&L in San Fran cisco, tout Microsoft’s software products—such as the Windows 2000 operating system—without referring to individual products.

One ad opens on an empty office. A voiceover details how two rival companies have merged, suggesting employees may not get along. The computer systems will have no problems, though, since both run on Microsoft software. In another spot, a computer bag is scanned by an airport metal detector. A voiceover says the owner will have no trouble closing a business deal overseas due to her laptop that uses Microsoft software.

The ads end with the tagline: “Software for the agile business.” Actor William H. Macy supplied the voiceovers.

The ads will run on major TV networks. McCann will continue to create ads for individual products and services. Print, outdoor and online work will be similar to the TV spots.

“We’ve tried to be more clear and concise about what our company is about,” said cli ent ad director Mike Delman. “We’ve tried to tell businesses that our software is at the core of what you do.”

The spots differ in tone from the Explorer work, which broke in late October and showed people from different cultures. “The point is that this is a fairly frenetic business world where everyone operates in real time,” said Michael McClaren, agency evp and director of client services, explaining the ‘agility’ subtext.