Microsoft Says Thank You

A&L Softens Image of Embattled Software Maker
SAN FRANCISCO–Anderson & Lembke has produced its first-ever image work for Microsoft. The new TV spot, breaking Nov. 25 in California’s Silicon Valley area, is designed to convince the region’s high-tech companies such as Oracle and Intel that Microsoft appreciates their contributions to its success.
“This assignment is intended to change attitudes in Silicon Valley about Microsoft,” said Betsy Shannon, managing director of A&L, San Francisco. Those attitudes include perceived hubris on the part of the Redmond, Wash.-based software company. “Many people think [Microsoft] believes good things only come from Redmond,” said Shannon. “But they know they’re not the only idea people, and that good ideas come from everywhere.”
The 30-second spot uses nostalgic images of innovators such as Nolan Bushnell, inventor of the early video game Pong in the 1970s, to emphasize how much the high-tech industry has advanced in such a short time through the contributions of such individuals.
The spot opens with a picture of the worn wooden shed that served as the first headquarters of Hewlett-Packard, and then shows images of the founders of the Palo Alto, Calif., company. A voiceover says, “They didn’t know what they were doing was impossible. They pioneered the technology that made a whole new industry come to life. … They were the first software developers.”
The spot ends with the Microsoft logo and its existing tagline, “Where do you want to go today?” The voiceover asks, “So what else is impossible?” and wraps with, “We salute the imagination that drives the developer.”
Microsoft may use the spot in other key technology markets such as Boston by early 1999, according to Shannon. Silicon Valley is the company’s first target, she said, as Microsoft will soon open a campus there.
The new work is also an effort by Microsoft to give itself a kinder, gentler image in the face of its current struggles with the federal government over antitrust charges.
“We realize that some people will be cynical about this campaign,” said Shannon. “But we’re sure a lot of companies will be surprised to see Microsoft take the time to [publicly] note their contributions.”
The Microsoft image spot is a milestone for A&L, as the shop’s work for the client has primarily been limited to product advertising. Microsoft’s other lead agency, Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore., oversees corporate branding duties and advertising for Microsoft’s Windows operating system.
A&L has quietly been picking up some of Wieden’s business, however, including ad duties for the Microsoft Network (MSN) and Microsoft Office group of programs.
Sources estimate A&L’s annual billings with Microsoft to be at least $120 million. Microsoft spent about $127 million on advertising through June of this year, 30 percent more than the same period last year, according to Competitive Media Reporting.