Media: Strategy Analysis - Campaigning against pen and paper

Brand: Office OneNote 2003

Client: Microsoft

Brief: Sell Microsoft's OneNote

Target audience: Workers within human resources and IT

Budget: £100,000


Creative: MRM Partners

Virals: The Viral Factory

STRATEGY MRM Partners was asked to promote Microsoft Office OneNote - a digital note-taking application. The benefits of note-taking this way would soon become apparent once the product was demonstrated.

The target audience was made up of information workers and decision-makers within the HR and IT departments.

MRM's strategy was simple - highlight first the shortcomings of traditional stationery compared with today's laptop generation, then the advantages of using OneNote.

Microsoft's endgame was to drive downloads of a trial version. Communicating with a large audience on a relatively small budget meant traditional media outlets would struggle to connect with any significant volume. MRM believed a combination of viral, online, ambient and e-mail channels would prove more successful. However, this presented challenges. How do you successfully market such cutting-edge media solutions when they come from a corporate giant?


- Viral: The campaign launched with a staggered series of unbranded viral films, seeding on known viral sites. These dramatised the thought that "stationery is bad". The three films, entitled "bad pen", "elastic band" and "paper cut", went out unbranded and tried to connect with an audience all too used to being on the wrong end of rebellious office supplies.

These virals drove viewers online to discover how OneNote could help overcome the shortcomings of stationery, and provided them with an opportunity to download a free trial and win a free copy of the product.

Having realised that comedy was the most appropriate approach for these viral clips, MRM worked alongside The Viral Factory to develop new techniques to enhance the quality of the executions. The viral used an innovative multi-layered production technique, where multiple stories play out simultaneously.

This layered approach was designed to encourage repeat viewings, increase involvement and thereby raise forwarding levels.

Each of the films was anonymous, without product placement or any hard sell. Instead, the viewer was presented with the option of clicking through to, where the theme continued to dramatise the benefits of OneNote.

- Online: The virals deliberately withheld product branding and closed with a mysterious URL - Visitors to the site were greeted with a Flash animation that engaged them personally with the shortcomings of stationery, setting the scene to reveal OneNote as the answer for the frustrated office worker.

Those who did download the trial received an e-mail after 15 days, highlighting a few tips on using OneNote and reminding them of the competition. Sixty days after downloading the trial, they would be sent another e-mail, explaining that they had reached the end of their trial and encouraging purchase of OneNote.

The activity was supported with a second phase of a series of animated online banner ads. Again, these demonstrated the shortcomings of traditional stationery, revealed OneNote and connected directly to the trial download.

- Ambient: Pens were distributed within business reception areas, which were branded with the URL, although no Microsoft or OneNote branding.

These pens were doctored to ensure they ran out within the first few strokes - reminding users of the frustrations that they suffered.

- Internal: ambient and e-mail: The activity was simultaneously launched internally.

An internal e-mail distributed by the Microsoft HR department warned of potential stationery dangers and asked people to consider whether they really needed that item from the stationery cupboard.

Securing stationery cupboards in all Microsoft offices with warning tape and safety signage supported this. It highlighted again the potential issues and drove people online for more information.

This created a tremendous buzz, and ensured Microsoft staff, in all its offices, were seeding the viral clips and supporting the launch.


The results exceeded expectations. Over a six-week period, there were 8.6 million views of the clips, with a 15 per cent hit rate to the website.

THE VERDICT - Phil Nunn managing partner, Manning Gottlieb OMD

This strategy displays some clever content, but where is the thinking?

Brilliant - it makes me laugh, keeps me engaged and makes me want to see more. But, and I have a big but, where on earth is the clever strategy bit? Why has so much energy been spent on trying to not sell the product?

OK, so I get that this is viral and therefore too much branding is a bad thing, as it simply prompts people to hit close. I get that it's Microsoft, so people's predisposition may not be at a crescendo. Finally, I get that the budget is far from large, so the idea needs to seriously stretch.

Still, call me old-fashioned, but the best work understands what audience needs to see it, what reaction they should have and how you will manage to achieve some sort of return on the client's investment.

I have to be honest; I am less than convinced that many boxes can be ticked.

Whilst the execution is brilliant (and I want to meet The Viral Factory as soon as possible) the path that has got it there is far less solid.

It is always risky trying to guess another person's brief but here goes ... the audience is not a random mix of individuals; it has to be pretty hardcore IT specialists and the influencers are going to be pretty limited.

The product is good, replacing the need for that ubiquitous day-book.

Based on my extensive research of IT techies (two in the corridor), they don't really understand the benefits of the product. Using viral may be cool but it doesn't seem to deal with the basics. The product is not yet mature enough to simply be put there without detailed explanation of what it does and why it does it.

So what would I have done? Using electronic media to promote the benefits of electronic over paper technology makes sense. So that sets our media framework. Building a content-type communication is always more interesting and more effective at engaging the audience. So that sets the task.

The biggest thing I would have done ... set my client's sights on delivering results (that's more than click-throughs and hits), and on being a bit less cool but more focused on demonstrably selling the product.

SCORE: 2/5.