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September 4, 2008 11:16 PM

Internal Microsoft memo describes initial Windows ad as 'icebreaker'; new PCs, retail effort to follow

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Bill Veghte, senior vice president of Microsoft's online services and Windows business group, sent an e-mail to Microsoft employees Thursday night, shortly after the first ad in a major new Windows marketing campaign ran on network television. Veghte described the ad, which has perplexed many viewers, as "an icebreaker to reintroduce Microsoft to viewers in a consumer context."

Meanwhile, Microsoft fleshed out other parts of its marketing effort, including "Windows-branded sales environments and store-within-a-store concepts" at Circuit City and Best Buy.

Here's the full text of Veghte's e-mail, "Telling the story of Windows," obtained by The Seattle Times:

"Since it first launched nearly 25 years ago, Windows has been one of the most successful products in the history of the high tech industry. As we set our sights on the next 25 years, it is essential that we deliver incredible offerings on a great platform. We must also tell the story of how Windows enables a billion people around the globe to do more with their lives today. We must inspire consumers with the promise of what Windows uniquely makes possible across the PC, phone and web.


"Telling our story means making significant investments to improve the way consumers experience Windows. To that end, we are focused on making improvements at practically every consumer touch point, from the moment they hear about the Windows brand in our advertising to how they learn more about Windows products online; from how they view Windows and try it at retail to how they use the entire range of Windows offerings -- Windows Vista, Windows Mobile and Windows Live -- across their whole life.

"Today, we are kicking off a highly visible advertising campaign. The first phase of this campaign is designed to engage consumers and spark a new conversation about Windows -- a conversation that will evolve as the campaign progresses, but will always be marked by humor and humanity. The first in this series of television ads airs initially in the U.S., and it aims to re-ignite consumer excitement about the broader value of Windows. The first television spot aired on NBC during the opening game of the NFL season and will be seen through the evening on various primetime programs. Worldwide, you can view this first TV spot at http://msw.

"This first set of ads features Bill Gates and comedian Jerry Seinfeld. Think of these ads as an icebreaker to reintroduce Microsoft to viewers in a consumer context. Later this month, as the campaign moves into its next phase, we'll go much deeper in telling the Windows story and celebrating what it can do for consumers at work, at play and on-the-go. At that time, I'll be back to share more information about our plans to further strengthen the bond between consumers and Windows -- one of the most amazing products, businesses and brands of all time, and, with the right tenacity, passion and agility from all of us, a story that has many great chapters to come."

Bill V

In a news release, Microsoft describes Thursday's ad as having nothing to do with software.

"Nevertheless, the spot is the first and most visible sign of an ambitious effort by Microsoft's Windows business to reconnect with consumers around the globe."

The release, which is extensive and actually substantive, fills in some details of the "significant investments" alluded to in Veghte's e-mail:

"Major retailers, such as Circuit City and Best Buy, will begin rolling out Windows-branded sales environments and store-within-a-store concepts;
"Major PC manufactures including HP, Dell, Sony and Lenovo are working with Microsoft to enhance key areas of the PC experience, including speeding up startup and shut-down time and sleep and resume speeds;
"Windows.com has been revamped and will point consumer to specific Windows products and experiences that deliver."

In the release, Brad Brooks, corporate vice president in charge of Windows consumer product marketing, describes the "historic relationship" between Microsoft and consumers as "insufficient in this new world, a situation that has led the company to fundamentally rebuild the customer experience."

The company has spent the last year researching and rebuilding everything from buying PCs, software and devices, to using them, to the customer-support process. It built a "Retail Experience Center" on the campus in Redmond to study PC buying.

"Customers have told us they want Microsoft to play a more active role in their technology experiences, by helping direct them to the specific products, services and technologies that will most benefit their unique needs," Brooks said in the release.

One way the company will do that is through "Microsoft Gurus ... similar to the Nordstrom model of 'personal shoppers,'" in some stores.

In addition, Veghte is leading a team that has been working with PC manufacturers to improve start-up and shut-down speeds and other aspects of the over all package. New machines that benefit from these efforts will arrive later this fall, according to the release.

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