The Man Behind Microsoft's Perplexing New Ad Campaign--"The New Busy"-- Explains What He Had in Mind

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Seattleites will soon be tested to see if this is doing its job.
We had occasion last week to wonder about Microsoft's strange new ad campaign for Hotmail called "The New Busy," which is currently colonizing buses, billboards, the sides of buildings, email signature lines, and radio airtime all over Seattle.

Given that the campaign was dreamt up by a very cool Seattle boutique agency, called Creature, we thought it only fair to check in with them and find out what the strategy was here.

It all seems to make sense in theory...

Matt Peterson, one of the creative directors at Creature, says his agency's task was to "wake people up to Hotmail." Many a Hotmail address has "gone dormant," he says, its owner relegating it to the status of "spam collector." "We want to address that."

And how did that result in the grammatical conundrum that is "The New Busy"?

"It's kind of a mindset," says Peterson, who notes the campaign is targeted at "young professionals and busy moms. Really, everybody's busy, trying to do the things they want

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Peterson: "Identifying a tribe."
to do as well as what they have to do. We wanted to turn that on its head a little bit and celebrate being busy and say you can be busy in a good way. Like, I'm taking my daughter to horseback riding lessons right now, and in the car talking to you. It could be a little overwhelming for some, but if you look at it the right way, I think that's something we all want, if we can balance it right. Hopefully Hotmail's going to be a hub for all the things you do to make your life interesting and full, but in a good way."

Later in the campaign, the ads will start to be a little less conceptual and enigmatic--less about making animal-shaped pancakes (don't bother clicking if you don't have Silverlight, Microsoft's Flash competitor)--and more about things you can actually do with Hotmail.

"It's pretty bold of Microsoft to just come out with something that's fairly high-level with the messaging," says Peterson, "to try to identify a tribe of people, really. It's kind of a lifestyle fit, versus coming out with features early."

The campaign may later expand beyond the four U.S. cities it's in now, and perhaps even descend on Europe. First, though, Creature will be convening focus groups to see if the ads are achieving the "perception change" they seek. "[We'll] ask [people] about 'The New Busy,' if that's something that resonated with them," Peterson says.

It has certainly resonated with a few of us.

 
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