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Microsoft Pri0

Welcome to Microsoft Pri0: That's Microspeak for top priority, and that's the news and observations you'll find here from Seattle Times technology reporter Matt Day.

December 16, 2008 at 11:12 AM

High praise for Crispin Porter + Bogusky, Microsoft’s hot-shot ad agency

Creativity, a top advertising and design monthly, named Crispin Porter + Bogusky, its 2008 Agency of the Year. Crispin “came to represent the New Ad Agency, the idea-centric, media-inclusive, integrated creative factory whose brand campaigns feed from and create popular culture.” While much of the talk around Crispin focused on its work for Microsoft this year, in explaining its pick, Creatvity focused more on the agency’s “Whopper Freakout” campaign for Burger King, which increased Whopper sales by double digits and “was the most recalled in the history of campaign recall being measured.” But what of Crispin’s work for Microsoft?

Here’s what Creativity wrote:

“Along with a $300 million piece of consumer products business the software giant brought unprecedented scrutiny to the agency. Here was a lumbering behemoth with an abysmal marketing track record, seemingly on a downswing, touting an almost terminally maligned product (Vista). This was surely too big a mouthful for even underdog loving CPB to digest.

“Well, again, the meltdown of agency culture that’s foretold whenever CPB wins a big piece of business (onlookers predicted the worst when the agency won Burger King and VW) once again didn’t happen as a result of Microsoft. But, equally, it’s hard to say if the agency will be able to have its usual impact on this client.

“The shop’s ice-breaker famously paired Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld who co-starred in two peculiar, amusing web films. The films and the stars elicited mixed reactions and, perhaps more to the point, an avalanche of internet talk. Agency creatives called the films a “palette cleanser” and they were — they demanded attention, they created a dialogue around Microsoft, and, for many, they created a different, more positive energy around the company. And then, Bill and Jerry went away and the “I’m a PC” campaign launched. The ads featured a global cast of real people and celebrities of varying renown, all proudly declaring their membership in the impugned Microsoft majority. They were an earnest rejoinder to the long slap in the face that has been Apple’s “Mac vs. PC” campaign and on that basis were rather unexpected. Predictably, reaction among ad types has been harsh, but in the real world, the campaign has gone over fairly well. At the very least it has established something resembling a tone of voice for Microsoft and given the software maker’s own army of staffers something to rally around.

“We, and everyone else, will eagerly anticipate the next Microsoft gambit. In the end, though, Microsoft didn’t loom that large in our decision to make CPB agency of the year. A much more decisive factor was the agency’s consistent knack for pushing the boundaries of what an ad agency can be.”

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