Like nearly every other marketer right now, Microsoft’s branding team had to shift gears after the pandemic started. While previous messaging for Microsoft Teams promoted a “new way to work,” all of a sudden workers around the world and across industries found an entirely new way of working thrust upon them.
In order to remain sensitive to the moment, Micros0ft took a hard look at what was needed right now. One thing was certainly positivity, the software giant concluded, and real stories of the incredible people who continue to keep the world turning despite unprecedented challenges.
“You certainly are not selling in this context,” said Kathleen Hall, Microsoft’s corporate vice president of brand, advertising and research. “It’s not about benefiting from a situation right now—that would be just wrong.”
But the company was getting feedback from users all over the world, grateful for the way Microsoft Teams was allowing them to continue working almost seamlessly. As those thank yous continued to come through the company’s inbox, Hall said she began to wonder whether it’d be possible to create a spot using the product itself—footage from real meetings of doctors and researchers and business executives doing the critical work to keep people safe and healthy.
So that’s what they did. Hall said the team reached out to a few of the folks who’d sent appreciative notes, asking whether they’d be willing to participate in an ad highlighting the ways Microsoft Teams is allowing them to work under lockdown. Participants included health professionals from St. Luke’s University Health Network, researchers and educators at the Università di Bologna, executives at L’Oréal and public safety officers from the London Metropolitan Police Service.
“We really did want to have something hopeful and uplifting,” Hall said. At a time when we’re inundated with bad news all day long, more than ever, the goal for Microsoft was to acknowledge that things are hard while pointing out that “there are some amazing people doing amazing things out there to keep the world going,” she said. “Let’s celebrate them. Let’s look at what what’s positive out there.”
It’s a relatively consistent message for the brand. Last year, its heartwarming Super Bowl spot focused on adaptive technology that allows disabled children to overcome physical limitations (and won its share of accolades).
“We’ve always been about authenticity and social relevance,” Hall said. “In this time, we’re still about that—but with an extra layer of sensitivity to tone and manner given the situation.”
The spot, created by McCann NY, will begin running in Microsoft’s core markets across TV, social and digital. After that, the brand will roll out the campaign in 11 more markets: China, South Korea, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Australia, Japan and Hong Kong.
Microsoft Teams, which launched in 2017, has grown to more than 44 million global users in recent weeks.