Edelman wins global consumer launch of Microsoft Vista, Office

REDMOND, WA: Edelman has won the global consumer launch of the Windows Vista and Office 2007 system, just months before the software operating system will hit stores.

REDMOND, WA: Edelman has won the global consumer launch of the Windows Vista and Office 2007 system, just months before the software operating system will hit stores.

Edelman will spearhead the worldwide launch of the long-awaited Microsoft operating system Vista, which succeeds Windows XP. Vista is scheduled for business availability in November and for consumer adoption in January. That consumer launch was originally supposed to happen in the second half of 2006, but was delayed. Waggener Edstrom, which reportedly did not lose any Microsoft business as a result of this RFP, remains Microsoft's AOR and the Vista and Office business AOR.

"The general availability of these two products is expected to be amongst the biggest and most ambitious consumer launches in the history of Microsoft," the company said in a statement to PRWeek. "Edelman was brought in to augment existing resources and focus specifically on the consumer launch. The firm will work closely with Waggener Edstrom, the agency of record for Microsoft's Windows and Office groups."

Microsoft could not be reached for further comment. In the US, Edelman handles the Xbox 360 and Zune businesses, as well as other pieces of its entertainment and de-vices division.

The account win was announced during a trying week for Edelman, as it faced scrutiny for an inappropriately disclosed blog campaign for Wal-Mart.

Edelman's role will be to build consumer awareness in a specific time window through "a pop" around the launch, said Marianne Allison, WagEd's EVP and chief innovation officer.

WagEd's Frank Shaw, president of the agency's Microsoft account worldwide, also issued a statement last week: "The appointment of another agency is to help with the consumer launch of the product Windows Vista and Office 2007 and is supplemental to the great work that is already going on. We look forward to working hand in hand with Edelman on achieving the best results possible for Microsoft with this product launch."

Sources said the agency pitched at least against Weber Shandwick and WagEd. WagEd confirmed that it pitched; WS did not comment by press time. All three agencies already handle various aspects of Microsoft's PR business, which is broken up into more than 35 divisions.

Industry observers speculated that Edelman's work with the Xbox franchise launches likely factored into the decision.

Edelman's work on the Xbox 360 launch included an event in the Mojave Desert. Three thousand die-hard gamers competed for their slots and paid for their own travel in order to play the system and its launch games two days before it was released to the public. Because of buzz and product shortages, people lined up for its midnight release and physically fought over consoles in retail stores. Edelman also engineered a successful buzz marketing campaign for the original Xbox.

"I would guess [Microsoft] decided on Edelman because this is the consumer launch, and Microsoft wants a consumer audience for the January Vista rollout," said Mary Jo Foley, editor of the "All About Microsoft" blog on ZDNet.

Robert Scoble, the former Microsoft "technical evangelist," who is now Podtech VP of media development, said he thought Edelman's success on the Xbox 360 launch was a deciding factor for Microsoft.

"[Edelman] probably got it because of that. Everyone wanted an Xbox when they came out," Scoble said.

He also predicted that Edelman's task would be difficult.

"It's a pretty tough job. It's hard to do an Apple, which is a 'shock and awe' thing," Scoble said. "It's hard to get people to pay attention to anything... Their main job is to get noticed: something is coming out... let people get their hands on it. A lot of Vista is deep stuff - like the audio, and you need to experience that to know it's better than XP."

He added: "Getting people to pay attention will be expensive. Look back at [the launch of] Windows 95. They were hanging flags from the Empire State Building."

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