Q&A: Microsoft’s Brad Chase Discusses How Real People Get Things Done with MSN Every Day

REDMOND, Wash., Feb. 14, 2000 — Microsoft this week launches its largest-ever consumer advertising campaign, as well as a new logo, to support the recharged MSN, the Microsoft Network. PressPass spoke with Brad Chase, senior vice president of Microsoft’s Consumer Group, to find out how the new logo and advertising further shows MSN’s value to consumers and the promise of the Everyday Web.

PressPass: How does this advertising campaign reflect what MSN can offer to consumers?

Chase: This is our biggest push yet to communicate our unique vision of the Everyday Web, to show how important the Everyday Web experience is to consumers — and to show how MSN is uniquely able to deliver it to them because of superb, integrated services that are available through no other Internet portal. When you want the Web at your fingertips, when you want to get things done in a productive and fun way, MSN is the place to be.

Through the daily experiences of the characters (Georgia, Jackson, Nancy and Mike) involved in the “MSN Project,” Microsoft aims to demonstrate MSN’s vision for the Everyday Web by showing real-world scenarios of what’s possible on MSN and how MSN transforms people’s Internet experience.

In the ads, people just like the viewers — young and old, computer-literate and new to computers, and so on — use MSN to make their lives better, to take advantage of the Web as a part of getting things done on a daily basis. The ads tell the continuing story of four people who enter a house equipped with nothing but MSN. They outfit their house with furniture, comparison shop, arrange for deliveries, plan and host parties, share with friends — all using MSN. They order groceries, shop for appliances, pay bills, communicate with friends and so on using integrated MSN services such as MoneyCentral, Hotmail and Web Communities. The ads tell their evolving story in a fun, entertaining way. But I want viewers to be surprised, so I won’t say any more.

PressPass: What new developments are behind this campaign?

Chase: A few months back, we relaunched MSN. It’s a completely redesigned site with new services and features — such as our enhanced communications services — becoming available all the time. We have new partnerships, new products, new services that are integrated to make the Everyday Web vision a reality. And consumers are responding with tremendous enthusiasm. In many ways, it’s a new MSN, and if people haven’t seen MSN lately, they haven’t seen MSN. We want them to see what they shouldn’t be missing. The new ad campaign and logo reflect the Everyday Web vision at the heart of the new MSN.

PressPass: What does this campaign say about the role of MSN within Microsoft?

Chase: The Web is central to everything that we do at Microsoft and, for consumers, the best way to take advantage of the Everyday Web is via MSN. That makes MSN very important to the company. Likewise, we see customers increasingly wanting to take advantage of software as a service, and MSN is a superb example of providing seamlessly integrated services via software to make people’s lives better. The ad campaign reinforces these messages.

PressPass: What makes MSN the best way for consumers to take advantage of the Everyday Web?

Chase: We really see consumers wanting — and needing — seamlessly integrated services to master the Web. As the recent AOL/Time Warner merger announcement shows, AOL thinks consumers want proprietary content. Of course, great content is a part of the equation, and we offer that through partnerships with the leading marketplace partners. But only MSN focuses on what consumers want to do with that content, and gives them the most powerful, interesting, useful and easy ways to leverage that content and make their lives better in very practical ways. Consumers have told us they want real benefits in real time for the real-world ways they need to use the Web. That’s what MSN offers and that’s what our new ads highlight.

PressPass: When you talk about integrated services, what do you mean?

Chase: Our various services become even more powerful and beneficial to consumers when they can use those services together to accomplish their real-world tasks. For example, MSN Messenger and MSN Hotmail are two of our most successful services — and consumers can use them together. A button in Messenger shows users how many Hotmail messages they have and takes them directly to their inbox if they wish. The new MSN Calendar will be integrated with Hotmail for easier scheduling and collaboration. Calendar and Chat will be integrated into our Web Communities services, and so on.

PressPass: Who are you trying to reach with this campaign?

Chase: The Everyday Web is now something that virtually everyone can benefit from, whether they’ve been using the Internet for years or have yet to dip their toes in the water. So, we’re trying to reach virtually all adults. That’s why the characters in our ads reflect the broadest diversity of knowledge, experience, interest levels and so on. More than 30 million people already visit MSN each month — so we’re very justified in saying that the Everyday Web is a mass medium, not just something for computer pros. We’re trying to reach people who don’t know why the Everyday Web is better than the
world for accomplishing so many tasks. We’re trying to reach people who may be using other Internet services because they don’t realize that MSN is the best way to take advantage of the Everyday Web. So our messages to these people will vary. Maybe some of them don’t already know that MSN offers free Web Communities, or that they can communicate instantly with the people they care about via MSN Messenger.

PressPass: How did you decide on the concept — four people moving into a house equipped only with MSN — as a way to show the value of MSN to consumers?

Chase: Once we showed the executives at McCann Erickson/A & L, our advertising agency, what was possible with MSN, they got very excited about how to showcase it. We knew that many consumers were frustrated about not getting the results they wanted from the Web, and we wanted to show them that they wouldn’t have to be frustrated with MSN. Another goal was that we wanted to break through the clutter of dot-com ads that are here today and gone tomorrow, so we began to develop the idea of a series of ads that would tell a continuous story. Some of the scenarios in the TV spots are pretty funny — but all of them are based on real services available on MSN.

What really pointed us in the direction of our creative concept was getting the ad agency executives themselves to “live the project,” to use MSN to create communities and see the benefits for themselves. For example, a member of the creative team was having a baby, and he created a Web Community on MSN to share the experience with his friends and family. He posted a sonogram and progress photos, allowed friends and family to vote for preferred baby names and even set up an online baby shower registry so people could buy gifts for the new baby via the Web. And he showed how people can use the Everyday Web to make their lives better, and how everyone brings their own background to how they use MSN.

PressPass: How long will these ads run?

Chase: The ads, particularly in the television campaign, are open-ended. We’ll run the campaign as long as it continues to engage, entertain and inform people. Because of the continuing storyline of the ads, we feel this is a campaign that could run for quite a while. Maybe once our four characters have completely outfitted their empty house, they can access MSN from a new summer home — or from a cruise ship or mountaintop.

PressPass: What is Microsoft seeking to accomplish with the new MSN logo?

Chase: We were looking for a logo that would be unique in the Internet space, that fits with the Microsoft brand, and that captures the spirit and imagination of what MSN can do to empower the Everyday Web. The MSN butterfly icon and cleaner, simpler font that accompanies it are meant to capture the imagination and freedom that people should feel from using MSN.

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