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Microsoft Unveils 'Agility' Sequel

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Microsoft this week kicks off its first campaign of 2002, an ambitious global effort in which the software giant continues to reach out to business professionals.

The latest installment of the "Agility" campaign from McCann-Erickson, San Francisco, features four TV spots along with print and online work. Global spending is estimated at $200 million.

The ads promise "ultimate connections" for business. Michael McLaren, agency evp, director of client services, said the shop kept the message simple so it could run in 10 countries.

"The key message is about being connected," he said. "We wanted to say you are more agile if you bring the various aspects of your business closer through software."

A 30-second spot titled "Red" features a man deciding he wants a red sports car. The screen splits, showing his smiling face alongside a car being painted red in a factory. When the man decides he would prefer black, the mechanical painter instantly accommodates him, and then switches again when he goes back to red. The screen fades to the tag: "One degree of separation."

"It's different for the client because it uses humor," executive creative director Dante Lombardi said of the spot. "They need to show a side of themselves that is more fun."

Another spot shows a busy trading office selling at a record pace. An office manager walks down the hallway panicked because the computer system is taxed, but the office is able to stay online, presumably because of Microsoft software.

"We want the spot to say that the technology humming away in the background allowed them to break their sales record," Mc Laren said.

Two other spots show how Microsoft software can help a new employee and keep track of a chaotic wine cellar.

William H. Macy, best known for his leading role in Fargo, provides the voiceovers. Macy worked on the initial Agility campaign last year.

"His voice captures the calm but capable traits the brand brings to the table," McLaren said. "He's a really good part of the package."

The spots will run throughout the year on such programming as the NCAA men's basketball tournament. The print ads will run in major newspapers and business magazines.

Walt Connelly was the other executive creative director. Paul Hicks was the copywriter, and Michael Furlong the art director.