Microsoft is kicking off a new holiday ad campaign during Sunday Night Football on NBC on October 16.
The theme of the 35-country campaign, created by Microsoft ad partner Crispin Porter + Bogusky, is "It's a great time to be a family." Microsoft is using the word "family" in two ways: To emphasize that its Windows PC, Office, Xbox/Kinect and Windows Phone technologies can appear to all members of families; and to play up its portfolio, or family, of technologies.
"Consumers are making portfolio-level decisions," said David Webster, Microsoft Chief Marketing Strategist. "We want them to meet the family."
Microsoft isn't going to be playing up in any of the new spots the new "Windows PCs in tablet form factors" that its hardware partners are bringing to market. (The company's real iPad competitors -- Windows 8 tablets -- are still about a year away from availability, company watchers believe.) Instead, the new spots will be highlighting more traditional Windows 7 PCs, which might be of interest to XP home users who haven't looked at the new form factors that have been introduced in the past few years.
The ads will show these kinds of PCs as just one of a number of Microsoft products that might appeal to holiday shoppers, Webster said.
"It's a big experiment for us, putting all these products (from different Microsoft business groups) together," Websters said.
Microsoft isn't going to be emphasizing speeds, feeds or interoperability among these products in its new campaign. Instead, it will be attempting to get users who might have one Microsoft product at home (or work) to think about buying another.
"A lot of people don't know we (Microsoft) make the Xbox," Webster said.
The new campaign won't replace the single-product ad campaigns Microsoft already has and/or is planning to launch this year (such as dedicated Xbox campaigns). In markets where Microsoft Stores exist, the ads will drive users to those stores; in markets where they don't, Microsoft's new ads will direct potential buyers to their local retail stores.
I asked Webster what kinds of families (traditional, nuclear vs. more modern-day ones) Microsoft was highlighting in the new campaign. He said the main focus will be on "extended families," of which everyone can claim to be a part.
Update (October 16): Here's one of the first ads in the new "family" holiday series (thanks, @harlemS):
And here's the one that aired during Sunday night football pre-game: