Q&A: New Ads Explain, “It’s Everybody’s Business”

REDMOND, Wash. — Jan. 11, 2009 — A new wave of advertising from Microsoft launched this week, offering a fresh look at a range of technologies designed to empower people to drive the success of their businesses.

Using the theme “It’s everybody’s business,” the campaign includes a mix of television, online and print. The spots use audio interviews with executives in leading companies worldwide, presented through animation, to illustrate how companies use technology to solve business problems, seize opportunities and ultimately, make themselves more competitive.

As general manager of Microsoft’s Advertising and Customer Engagement Team, Gayle Troberman leads the teams that create Microsoft’s advertising concepts across its products and services for companies. To get more on the new campaign, PressPass spoke with Troberman last week.

PressPass: What is the focus of this new campaign?

Troberman: The campaign is designed to demonstrate how companies can drive business success by empowering their people with the right technology. Microsoft provides a range of technologies for our business customers that allow people to do more — to collaborate more, to innovate faster, to be more efficient. Our first business campaign worked well in getting people to understand what they can do with software, but with this campaign we’re taking that a step further and getting more specific about how the products empower people to make an impact. The campaign tagline, “because it’s everybody’s business,” highlights the fact that everyone in an organization is responsible for a company’s success, and the right solutions in the hands of the right people help companies win.

PressPass: Considering the current economic situation, why launch this campaign now?

Troberman: We think software can provide one of the biggest competitive advantages, and that’s especially critical now when a lot of companies are struggling just to keep the lights on. Investing in the right solutions can help organizations cut costs, improve productivity, fuel innovation and stay ahead of the competition. Those differentiators become even more important when a company’s customers begin scrutinizing their purchases. Microsoft’s view is that business leaders who maintain a long-term perspective — even as they take short-term steps to adjust to the current economic realities — have the chance to emerge from a downturn in a better position than they were before.

And it’s not just us “saying” this either — these TV commercials come straight from the experiences of leading customers around the world. We have stacks of case studies where companies large and small are saving millions by using technology more effectively. In this climate, especially in the enterprise space, we really believe that businesses need help, and we have an opportunity to help them. So it’s an important time to be communicating with customers, and this campaign is part of that.

PressPass: Besides Microsoft case studies, what homework went into this strategy?

Troberman: We did a lot of research with business and technology decision-makers on how they use technology, how they want to use technology and where our products can help. We’re also working with companies like Quiksilver, Coca-Cola, Method and Nestle USA, who have really embraced technology and made big gains in efficiency and productivity using enterprise software. We think the commercials are going to be very interesting for people, and will help them see what’s possible with technology, because it’s all based on what successful companies are doing now.

PressPass: Has the economy affected your approach or the tone of the ads at all?

Troberman: Some of the ads are very specific about the toll of a down economy on business, and how software and IT can help. We’re using real thought leaders in business such as Katie Bayne, CMO of Coca-Cola and Robert McKnight, CEO of Quiksilver, to discuss how using the right enterprise software in the right places can help entire companies come together to drive business results.

As for executing the campaign, we’ve taken a hard look at every advertising and marketing dollar we’re spending, and there are areas where we’re changing plans. We also think we’re getting a great deal on advertising “real estate” right now, so we hope we can get a lot more value out of the dollars we are spending today.

PressPass: You also took a very interesting approach in creating the ads themselves, saving time and costs. Can you tell us about that?

Troberman: Yes, it’s true. The ads are entirely animated and entirely digitally produced. We also used phone interviews with business leaders to create the work. The approach overall gave us great flexibility in terms of how the ads look, how we worked with these partner companies and the speed at which the whole process came together. It also gives us the agility to adapt as the campaign evolves, and address anything new that comes up during that time. It was apparent right from the start that this approach was really working for us, and we think the ads themselves are very cool.

PressPass: Is this effort related to the “I’m a PC” consumer campaign launched last fall?

Troberman: This is a business-to-business campaign aimed at business and technology decision-makers, whereas the Windows campaign is very much focused on consumers. People may want to compare the two campaigns, but they target different audiences with different messages, and completely different approaches.

The Windows campaign, created by Crispin Porter + Bogusky, is really about creating a “vibe” or a feeling that helps reclaim and define our brand for consumers. This campaign was created by JWT, and is much more straightforward and informative in showing business people the real value they can achieve with technology. Ultimately we wanted to communicate that the essence of business is personal – and that everyone plays an important role. Never before has that been more true.

PressPass: What does success look like for this campaign?

Troberman: Microsoft is constantly innovating and introducing new approaches and solutions to the everyday business challenges our customers are facing. In the end, we want to make sure that customers are aware of the broad range of solutions we offer across CRM, virtualization, business intelligence, unified communications, security, collaboration and everything else that provides real functionality to help everybody make an impact, no matter what their role is in the business.

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