McCann Rebranding Microsoft

With a new management and creative team in place, McCann-Erickson/A&L is ready for its most ambitious job yet: rebranding a household name.

Microsoft last week kicked off a $150 million global campaign—its single biggest adver tising outlay since the launch of Windows 95—for MSN Explorer, a Web browser intended to compete with such services as America Online. The browser is designed to let users listen to music, access e-mail and more.

McCann, lead agency for the $300-350 Microsoft business, will unroll more Explorer work in the coming weeks. Kevin Moehlenkamp, chief creative officer, said the ads will give the company a new image distinct from its Windows software.

“We need to put a human face on Microsoft,” said Moehlenkamp. “The problem many people have with the Internet is they view it as cold. We want Microsoft to feel like an extension of their life.”

“We want to show a juxtaposition of people comfortable in a world that knows no boundaries,” added Michael McClaren, executive vice president, director of client services at the agency.

The Explorer push features a launch TV spot plus print and outdoor executions. McClaren said the work steers clear of the business-oriented theme of Windows 2000 and instead deals with the average Internet user.

Due in the next few weeks from McCann is a second spot for Explorer titled “Soccer” that plays on the themes of family and community. In it, an elderly English man is shown bragging to his family about his soccer exploits in the 1930s.

Using Explorer, one of his grandchildren finds and prints out a picture of the team his grandfather claimed to be part of and asks the man where he is in the picture. The grandfather looks away and starts telling other tall tales.

McCann recently hired Walt Connelly as executive creative director on Microsoft. He came from Messner Vetere Berger McNamee Schmetterer/Euro RSCG in New York, where he worked on Intel.