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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.

October 14, 2011 at 1:53 PM

Updated with vids: Can Xbox make Windows cool? Microsoft launches ad campaign

(Updated 10/16 to include videos of two of the ads. Scroll down to view.)

Microsoft plans to launch a holiday ad campaign, starting Sunday, that highlights its whole family of consumer products — Windows PCs, Windows Phone, Office, Xbox with Kinect — rather than ads for one product at a time.

The idea is to capture some of the sizzle around Xbox 360 — which has been the No. 1-selling game console in the U.S. for 15 of the past 16 months, according to Microsoft — and spread it around to other company products.

Call it the “halo effect,” says Microsoft’s Chief Marketing Strategist David Webster. The company wants to “borrow a little sex appeal and spread it throughout the portfolio.”

Most people know that Microsoft makes Windows and Office but don’t necessarily know that the company also produces Xbox consoles and Windows Phone software, or even that the latter two exist, Webster said.

What Xbox and Kinect (Microsoft’s motion-sensing device) have done, Webster said, is get people excited about the way they can control games or movies and TV shows with their voices or bodies.

“If they know we’re the same company that came up with those ideas, and now we have these PCs and phones — they’re more likely to think: ‘Wow, I should check out these PCs and phones,’ ” Webster said.

Plus, consumers today are increasingly interested in a unified ecosystem of products that work well together, in case they want to, say, hook up their gaming console to their set-top box, and make sure what they buy is compatible with their PCs and phones as well.

“They want to know what the whole family of products look like,” Webster said.

So the campaign plays with the notion of family. The tagline — “It’s a great time to be a family” — captures both the family of Microsoft consumer products, and emphasizes how the products help families spend more time together.

Microsoft’s research shows that its sweet spot for such products, Webster says, are families with young children. Its research also shows that such families have mixed emotions to new technologies coming into their homes. On the one hand, they’re excited about the shiny new toys. On the other hand, they tend to think technologies isolate them from each other – picture a family of four, each with his or her head down looking at a device.

So Microsoft’s video ads, which will run primarily on TV and online, features storylines about how its products brings people together, Webster said. For instance, one ad features a father dancing in the living room to Xbox’s “Dance Central.” His daughter videotapes him with a Windows Phone, then sends the video over to a brother who has a PC in the same room, who sends it on from there.

The ads are intended to show family moments; not complicated, technical features, Webster said.

The ads will be dialogue-free, designed to be shown in 35 countries — the widest geographic reach of any Microsoft TV ad campaign.

The company declined to disclose how much it’s spending for the campaign, but Webster characterized it as significant.

Update Oct. 16:

Microsoft has posted the first two videos in this ad campaign up on its YouTube channel. So far, the blog has weighed in on the ads with writer Kip Kniskern saying “we can’t say as we’re overly impressed with the new ads. … We were hoping for something a bit edgier, more forward thinking.”

What do you think?

Here’s the ad called “Epic Share”:

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Here’s “Dog.PPT”:

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