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Thursday, November 04, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.
Microsoft, Intel unite in holiday ad blitz to spread joy of PCs
By Brier Dudley
That's the theme of a marketing blitz the technology giants are launching this week to educate consumers about new digital-entertainment-oriented PCs.
With consumers embracing digital media and devices such as TiVo and iPod, Microsoft and Intel also want to be sure people know what's available from PC makers. Digital Joy makes the argument that PCs are the best device for playing and recording TV, music and videos.
The campaign is also part of the companies' long and persistent effort to broaden the appeal of PCs, especially now that the market is saturated with basic versions.
They'll advertise Digital Joy online, in print media, on television and in movie theaters. Also planned are "Experience Zone" kiosks that will demonstrate products in 38 malls across the country from Sunday to Jan. 10. Locally, kiosks will be at Westlake Center and Northgate Mall.
Microsoft and Intel are spending "several tens of millions" on the campaign, said Brad Brooks, director of Windows consumer marketing. The ads were created by Deutsch, a New York advertising agency that also does work for Expedia.
For Microsoft, it's part of a larger, $100 million-plus campaign to pitch its "Experience More" digital-entertainment vision. That began last month in Los Angeles, when Chairman Bill Gates unveiled new digital-media PCs and devices, and will continue through 2005.
Next year Digital Joy campaign is to expand to Germany, the United Kingdom and Japan.
The campaign directs people to a Web site, digitaljoy.com, which goes live Sunday and shows how a PC can be the hub of a digital home-entertainment center. It highlights Hewlett-Packard products, including a $1,400 PC that looks like a DVD player and a device that beams digital photos, video and music through the home over radio waves.
HP's Digital Entertainment Center is "the first device that really belongs in the living room from Microsoft," said Josh Bernoff, a Forrester Research analyst in Cambridge, Mass. "I think consumers need a lot of extra education to figure out what that thing is."
Bernoff said it will help to advertise and get the products into consumers' hands at kiosks, but it will take a long time for the concepts to catch on broadly.
Microsoft and Intel also enlisted the help of a simian from "Planet of the Apes" and the musical character Annie. As seen on a preview of the digitaljoy.com Web site, they walk consumers through the products.
"Digital Joy is the feeling you have when all of your music, digital photos, movies, videos and TV programs are accessible at the touch of a button," the site says. "It's a remarkable new way to experience digital media throughout your home."
Microsoft and Intel have long worked together to advance the market for PCs, but Brooks said Digital Joy is the first time they are joining to promote a common brand.
"The complaints from our partners or the industry is that certainly you guys are partners from a technology standpoint, but you don't align on your marketing or vision," he said.
Microsoft is using the campaign to pitch Media Center Edition, a version of Windows that has digital TV, scheduling and recording capabilities and a TVlike remote control. It's installed on PCs with TV tuners that start at about $1,000.
Also new this fall is a companion device called Media Center Extender. It's basically a small box with a radio antenna that sits on a TV. It lets users wirelessly get digital media from a PC including recorded movies and TV shows to sets elsewhere in the home.
Intel is pitching its Pentium 4 chips with hyperthreading, a technology that boosts PC performance during data-intensive tasks such as digital-media processing.
"We have a truly integrated vision that has products today that work together, that have the ability to bring digital joy into your life in terms of an ecosystem of products, services that will work on those products," Brooks said. "There is no need to buy a one-off product like a TiVo or a media-player device; you can get it all together with one integrated vision from Intel and Microsoft."
Brier Dudley: 206-515-5687 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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