Monday, October 15, 2001

Madonna pitches Windows XP

The Associated Press

        REDMOND, Wash. — Microsoft's advertising campaign for Windows XP, toned down after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks but promoted as the company's biggest pitch since Windows 95, is keyed to a Madonna song and the slogan: “Yes you can.”

        “This is the promise, this is the empowerment” of Microsoft's desktop operating system, said Stephanie Ferguson, director of the company's PC Experience Solutions Marketing Group.

        Microsoft's 60-second TV spot starts out with a guy leaping through a green field and then lifting off into a sunny sky — a landscape lifted from Windows XP's default “bliss screen.”

        Then there's a series of images of people using Windows XP for real-time communications, to collaborate in an airy restaurant, to relay digital images of flying people, watch video, listen to music and more.

        The pace is set by Madonna's upbeat “Ray of Light,” which begins: “Faster than the speed of light, she's flying ...”

        “You soar,” bright white letters read. “Yes you can.”

        The U.S. ad campaign begins Monday — on TV, in magazines and newspapers, and on taxicabs and buses. To whet users' appetites, 11 million auto-demonstration CDs offering a sampling of Windows XP will be mailed out with magazines and handed out by Microsoft's business partners.

        Ferguson declined to say what the ad campaign cost, beyond the previously disclosed four-month budget of $200 million for marketing.

        Nor would she say how much Microsoft paid Madonna for the rights to her song — or compare the price to that paid the Rolling Stones in 1995 for “Start Me Up.”

        The campaign kickoff comes 10 days before the product's official Oct. 25 launch in New York City. There will be 62 other launch events around the country, reaching about 100,000 people, Ferguson told reporters — and more in other nations. Ads outside the United States will begin shortly after Oct. 15, and online ads will follow the launch.

        The campaign was reworked after the terrorist attacks Sept. 11 — the tag line changed from “Prepare to fly” to “Yes you can,” for example, to sidestep new concerns about air travel, Ferguson said. She declined to detail the effects on costs.

        The big question is whether people will buy the XP upgrades at $99 for home computers and $199 for office machines — or new PCs that contain the system — during the current economic slump


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