Media: Strategy Analysis - Microsoft challenges modern myths

Brand: Microsoft UK
Clients: Nicola Young, partner development manager; Julie Williams,
partner communications manager, Microsoft
Target audience: Registered members of the Microsoft Partner Programme
Budget: Less than £50,000

Media and creative: MRM Worldwide


Many channel partners are unaware of the real value Microsoft can bring to their business. In fact, some partners see Linux and other open source software as a cheap alternative to Microsoft and believe quite passionately that these "free" solutions are better than Windows.

Microsoft wanted to engage these partners and present independent evidence to address current misconceptions that Windows is less robust, less secure and less reliable than open source alternatives. The challenge was to find a compelling way to present this to sceptical, time-poor partners.

MRM Worldwide's strategy was to create an integrated campaign with a central theme of myths, linking Microsoft and open-source fallacies with well-known urban myths.

In an engaging, interactive "modern myths" test, partners were challenged to show how smart they were by identifying the myths from the realities.

Could they spot a tall tale when they saw one?


- Direct marketing: E-mails on their own can be ignored or missed, so MRM created a stand-out piece of DM to kick off the campaign. A scratch-off postcard was sent to partners containing two urban tales and one Windows/open source statement to be identified as "myth" or "reality".

They were then prompted to visit a microsite to take the full "modern myths" test, incentivised with a holiday competition.

Two weeks later, a teaser html e-mail was sent to the same list, with three new statements and active links to the test microsite.

- Digital: When they arrived at the microsite, visitors were invited to take the interactive "modern myths" test, a Flash-based animated quiz, featuring a series of statements that could be marked as either "myth" or "reality". Half were common urban stories, half were Microsoft-related tales.

At the end of the test, participants were given their score and invited to enter the holiday competition. They were also directed to a downloadable factsheet in PDF format. The factsheet contained pertinent evidence for future reference and customer visits, and a resources link featuring key tools available exclusively for Microsoft partners.

Visitors were also asked to provide feedback about how useful they had found the site and whether their views had changed as a result of using it.

To maximise response, a reminder e-mail was sent to non-respondents three weeks later, urging them to take the test and enter the competition before the deadline.


Of those contacted, 66 per cent visited the site and took the test (more than 713 per cent over target). The DM generated an 18 per cent response and the e-mail contributed 22 per cent click-through, with a further 26 per cent clicking through and taking the test from the follow-up e-mail.

Just as importantly, 40 per cent of visitors downloaded the PDF factsheet for future reference and 39 per cent investigated the resources link.

Feedback, too, was highly encouraging - 76 per cent of respondents said they found the information "useful" or "very useful". Almost one-third said their perceptions changed "to some extent" or "very much".

THE VERDICT: Andrew Stephens partner, Goodstuff Communications

Timing, they say, is everything: get the timing right and you're half-way there. Get it wrong, rush your submission to Campaign and you will fall a long way short of comparative excellence. Let me explain ...

It all begins with the details of this campaign landing in my e-mail while on La Croisette in Cannes debating and appreciating some of the world's best media thinking, so this entry had some stiff competition from the outset. So, competition was high and confidence in the claims made here rock bottom.

Anyway, on to the strategy review, which should not take too long because it does not feel like there is one. There's a creative idea and some direct media channel recommendations but I simply cannot see the strategic media input here - was a media agency/planner even involved?

Let's start with the objectives: "Present independent evidence to address misconceptions that Microsoft was somehow less robust, reliable and secure than open source software through an engaging and integrated campaign, targeting sceptical time-poor partners."

The creative idea of modern myths and tall stories is an engaging way of communicating the Microsoft misconception story, and executing it through a microsite is perfectly logical.

On to the media channel selection - skip strategy - where the agency says it chose direct mail "because e-mails can get ignored or missed" and ... er, e-mail. Referring to the objectives, I'm not sure this channel selection represents "an engaging and integrated campaign", was best placed to "present independent evidence", didn't fall foul of what it tried to avoid, nor am I sure direct channels are the best way to build credibility and reassurance.

Where was the opportunity for PR to convince the partner network that Microsoft is the most reliable, secure and robust? Where are the seminars, the events, third-party brands to help communicate impartiality? Where is the innovation? Call me old-fashioned, but where were the comparative double-page spreads in trade titles?

Scoring this work is very difficult, as there isn't really a strategy I can find to judge, although the claimed results look good.

SCORE: 1 out of 5.

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