USA Today Plays Big Role In XP Launch

One of the big winners in Microsoft Windows XP launch advertising is USA Today, which is running extensive XP advertising in print and online.

On Oct. 25, launch day, the paper ran a four color spread in its main news section and a half page four color ad in its Money section. A full-page black and white ad ran in main news the next day. A major online campaign started on launch day, led by a thin pencil unit on the home page that when clicked produced an image of a man soaring to the masthead, part of Microsoft's soaring campaign.

Lorraine Ross, vice president of sales for USAToday.com, says the company has used the masthead in advertising before, but never on the home page, making the XP campaign unique. Many of the sites Microsoft used for the launch developed new formats, according to a spokesman for Microsoft's interactive agency, Exile on 7th.

The online campaign featured ads throughout the site, including 250 x 250 pixel units and 150 x 100 pixel units in the Money and Tech sections.

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Ross called the campaign unique because of the number of units Microsoft bought and the exclusive units it ran on section fronts. Two advertisers usually run on section fronts. Microsoft bought a roadblock in an effort to gain high impact on section fronts, Ross says.

The online campaign will continue for four weeks. There's no idea how long the print campaign will run. Heather Holcomb, advertising director for the Pacific Northwest, says the company only speaks about ads that have already run, never future ads.

While some of the advertising may be novel, the use of USA Today isn't. Microsoft has used it extensively for past promotions, including the Office XP launch in May.

What may be different is the integration of the print and online advertising, with similar messages being conveyed. The soaring man in the homepage ad mimics images from Microsoft's offline advertising. "The online advertising used to be unique to our site and not tied into broadcast, but it's more integrated with a repeated message this time," Ross says.

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