Microsoft news: Reading the Microsoft advertising tea leaves for 2010

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Microsoft news: Although Microsoft and its ad agency partners aren’t yet ready to divulge the actual ads, David Webster, the chief strategy officer in Microsoft’s central marketing group, offered some insights about what the company is thinking about on the ad front for 2010.

On Office 2010, due out May 12, Microsoft is continuing to work with agency JWT, which has been doing the current “Real Life Tool” spots for Office, for its upcoming Office 2010 ad campaign. (JWT is also the agency behind the Bing ads.) Given that most enterprises are already educated about Microsoft Office, Webster said, the new ads are going to have more of a consumer flavor to them.

Given Microsoft’s current focus on users who want to use a single tool or set of tools to handle all aspects of their work/home lives, the Office 2010 campaign is likely to reflect a similar message. The new Office Web Apps and Office Mobile 2010 pieces of Microsoft’s Office message — coupled with the server-side cloud (Azure) and on-premises products — like SharePoint Server (and SharePoint Server Online), Exchange Server (and Exchange Server Online) and Office Communications Server (and Office Communications Online) — also will be part of Microsoft’s continued emphasis on three-screens-and-a-cloud, according to Office Senior Vice President Kurt Delbene.

On Windows Phone 7 Series due out later this year, Microsoft will be working with Crispin, Porter + Bogusky — the agency that did the Laptop Hunters, “Windows 7 Was My Idea,” and those confounding Bill Gates/Jerry Seinfeld ads for Windows 7 — to create its Windows Phone 7 Series ads. Webster emphasized that the marketing and product planning teams for Microsoft Windows Phone 7 Series have been working side-by-side, to devise the “story telling” for that product from the very start.

Microsoft wants the new phone ads to attract customers who may never have used (or didn’t realize they were using) a Windows Mobile phone. “The ‘people’ focus was a big part of the (Windows 7) branding” and will be a continued emphasis for Windows Phone 7 Series, Webster said.

The messaging “needs to reflect customers we have and customers we don’t,” he said. It also needs to explain why Microsoft is opting for a different phone model with elements like hubs and Live Tiles, instead of the app-centric approach of its competitors, Webster said. Windows Phone 7 Series also is the perfect vehicle for Microsoft to highlight the interdependence and convergence of different Microsoft brands and technologies, since Windows Phone 7 Series devices will be running Bing, Office Mobile, Zune services, Internet Explorer, and Windows Live, Webster pointed out

On Project Natal, Microsoft’s gesture-based game controller (which is being showcased at E3 in June, but shipping in time for holiday 2010): Microsoft hasn’t yet decided on the agency that will be handling these ads, Webster said; T.A.G. SF handled some of Microsoft’s holiday 2009 Xbox promotion/advertising.

In all of these campaigns, Microsoft is hoping one message comes through loud and clear: That the Redmondians are doing things differently and in an innovative way. With Office 2010’s multi-device/multi-screen support, Windows Phone 7 Series’s new user experience and Natal’s natural-user-interface, Microsoft is hoping folks see them as thinking outside the usual Microsoft box.

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