Microsoft starts MSN global drive

MSN, the leading website brand, is to benefit from the largest worldwide consumer marketing campaign ever undertaken by Microsoft, its owner.

The objective of the campaign is to build MSN into a global consumer brand with the recognition, prestige and value of Microsoft’s core brands of Windows and Office.

The move comes as Microsoft struggles to retain its dominance in a world moving rapidly away from PCs and towards an explosion of Internet devices. The ambitious marketing drive is led by a $150m (£103.5m) global ad campaign that highlights the “ease of use” and benefits to consumers of MSN’s Internet services and content. This includes a TV advertising campaign in North America, Europe and Asia. First commercials will air from October 26 in the US, and in Europe from November 3 (France), November 6 (UK, Italy and Spain) and November 13 (Germany and Sweden).

Some $20m (£13.8m) has been set aside for UK-specific branding activity. The campaign will also run online, on radio and in cinemas, as well as tactically in print and outdoor across MSN country sites in 14 European markets

The campaign has been created by McCann-Erickson, Microsoft’s global advertising agency and focuses on the fact that consumers still don’t feel comfortable using the Internet, but how it can easily become part of their lives. The theme is MSN as “a home environment – a place where consumers feel in control in the unfamiliar environment of the Web”, according to an MSN spokesman.

In the UK, where the campaign will promote MSN.co.uk, the UK’s most visited website, the television commercials will run in three bursts between November and February.

The ads will appear on ITV, Channel 4, satellite and Channel 5.

There will also be supporting promotions on Chris Evans’ Virgin breakfast show during the week beginning November 13, as well as activity in London with people interacting with the site through a giant screen.

The campaign’s concept emerged from worldwide research conducted by MSN. This revealed that many Internet users quickly move from awe and excitement to a state of frustration because the Web does not deliver on their expectations. The campaign is targeted at this audience of “unfulfilled” Internet users.

MSN.co.uk brand marketing manager Matt Whittingham says the campaign “shows everyday moments where MSN allows people to do what they want to do, naturally. It offers practical advice on how to use the Internet, which is what people have told us they want, and shows what MSN can do for them in everyday situations.

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