Microsoft Preps ‘People-Ready’ Push

NEW YORK Microsoft plans to spend $500 million in the next year to market a raft of new business products.

Interpublic Group’s McCann Erickson in San Francisco created the “People-Ready” campaign, which targets business decision makers ranging from department heads to CEOs, with a message that Microsoft technology can help them get their employees to succeed. Rather than focus on specific items, ads look to focus on the empowerment Microsoft products can give workers to achieve business goals.

“This company was founded on empowering individuals,” said Matt Ross, president of McCann Worldgroup in San Francisco and head of the Microsoft account. “It’s now evolved to the point where we feel we can empower individuals to come together to meet the goals of the organization.”

Microsoft is promoting several software products under the “People-Ready” banner, including its coming Vista operating system, new Office suite and Windows Mobile software.

The push includes TV, print and Web ads, in addition to public relations, direct marketing and other partner initiatives.

Eight-page “People-Ready” inserts ran today in The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. The first TV spot kicks off on Thursday during the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. Creative shows people around the world getting up and preparing for work. The tagline is: “Software for the People-Ready business.”

In addition to print and TV, Microsoft plans to make extensive use of the Web, said Mich Matthews, senior vice president of Microsoft’s central marketing group, looking to appeal to business decision makers through banner ads with a high level of interactivity within the unit. Microsoft research showed two-thirds of its target audience did not click on Web ads, she said. It has struck partnerships with, and others to publish “engagement centers” of aggregated editorial that illustrates the “People-Ready” theme.

“Our mix has shifted significantly,” Matthews said of Microsoft’s ad spending. “Our ramp in online is a hockey stick.”

Microsoft also plans to dip its toes into interactive TV, running spots later this year through Dish Network and TiVo. Ross said it was too early to discuss specifics of the executions.