Microsoft requested a set of solutions for a couple of tricky business challenges:
(1) Their salespeople were not finding anything interesting, creative, or human to talk to their leads about when trying to promote Microsoft business suite products.
(2) They were attending, sponsoring and producing a whole bunch of events, but there was no rhyme, reason, or rigour behind any of them.
(3) New product launches continued to come and go focusing entirely on specs, while all of their competitors had moved into a more interesting, emotionally rich territory.
We realized that we were not going to get customers excited about Microsoft products until we got Microsoft employees excited about their products.
Our solution was a careful response to the key business problems – a transformation in the way they do business much more than the way they communicate.
(1) C2 Spark: In collaboration with our partners in Montreal, C2, with whom we organize a highly creative un-conference every year, we launched a European spinoff called C2 Spark, sponsored by Microsoft. These events took place in all of their key markets, and we invited key Microsoft salespeople combined with key Business Decision Makers (BDMs). We invited highly creative speakers to come and spark creative discussions among these groups (pun intended).
(2) Events strategy: C2 Spark events were just one pillar of the three-pronged events strategy that we helped Microsoft develop.
(3) Launch of Surface 3: This student-targeted product was set to launch in June 2015, and we needed a fast-paced, highly targeted campaign to draw pre-sales. We knew that specs were no longer going to cut it with this audience, and neither would the USP Microsoft had been using up to this point, “productivity”. Students needed a reason to care. So we created the campaign “#Beneaththesurface”, which offered university students the chance to explore their “side” passion through a partnership with Skillshare – emphasizing that both our student audience, and the Surface 3, cared about more than just completing schoolwork faster. Due to logistical challenges the company unfortunately went with a lighter campaign.