Stephen Kim
Posted on 6/15/2014

The art of storytelling is as old as time itself; from the founding myths to fairy tales, stories have an innate power to capture our imagination, draw us in, and influence us. All good advertisers instinctively understand this. However, despite its fundamental importance to the industry, there has been no digital advertising solution capable of bringing together the wonder and intrigue of a story well-told with the multiple screens and devices that we use every day; games console, smartphone, tablet, PC. Until today.

Today, from Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, I’m delighted to reveal six new, cutting edge advertising experiences from Microsoft built for a selection of the world’s biggest and most prestigious brands; Activision, Emirates airline, Ford, Lexus, O2 Telefonica and Microsoft itself. These campaigns use Microsoft’s new suite of multi-screen features – Creative Sequencing and Frequency Controls, introduced in a blog by my colleague Greg Nelson last week – so each brand can engage a consumer in consecutive chapters of a story as it unfolds across multiple screens.

As the attention of our audience becomes ever-more fragmented, we believe these campaigns represent the future of advertising; deep, immersive engagement with a consumer through a beautiful, contextual narrative woven into the ‘moments that matter’ to them. Four examples – Activision, Lexus, Microsoft and O2 Telefonica – are live multi-screen campaigns launched in the last couple of weeks. We are also sharing what we call ‘envisioning scenarios’, prototype ad experiences that we are currently developing, testing and honing with Emirates and Ford.

In the spirit of ‘show not tell’, we have developed a series of videos designed to bring the executions to life. In each example, we introduce a fictional character in order to show how each solution can engage a typical consumer in the moments that make up an average day.

As another great example, be sure to read the Wall Street Journal post, How Microsoft is Helping Brands Like Lexus Advertise Across Three Screens, and explore the possibilities.

Let's dive in. 

BRAND: Lexus (USA)

AGENCY: Team One

SCREENS: MSN, Xbox 360, Windows 8 Ads-in-Apps

To engage 25 – 34 year old men and promote its F-series performance vehicles, Lexus is currently running a branding campaign called ‘The Other Side of Lexus’. In this Creative Sequencing example, we meet Seth – a car enthusiast – who, while checking the results of his favourite sports team on MSN, sees a clip of a skydiver jumping out of a plane and inviting him to follow. An adrenalin junkie, Seth opens up a first-part preview of Lexus’s extreme sport series ‘Ride with the Other Me’.  In a five minute break from work, the multi-screen feature picks up the story where Seth left it, showing the wing suiter land on a mountain ready to cliff dive. Later that night, he sees the third preview as the cliff jumper lands on the road just in time for an extreme driving experience. At night he fires up the full screen experience, watches the whole episode and can explore the Lexus F-series’ features.


BRAND: Emirates (International)

AGENCIES: Havas Media, Atmosphere Proximity

SCREENS: MSN, Xbox 360, Windows 8 Ads-in-Apps, Windows Phone and Skype

Emirates airline has envisioned what innovative, multi-screen marketing could bring to every traveler through their “Your Life in the Sky” campaign with Microsoft. In this scenario, we focus on Gaby, an LA-based, avid international traveller who lives for new experiences, and show her how Emirates can help fulfil her passions. In the opening sequence, Gaby is recipe-hunting on MSN, before receiving an ad that shows off Emirates’ gourmet breakfast menu and asks how she likes to enjoy her in-flight meal. At this stage, a geo-located countdown is triggered – ‘Now flying from LA-Dubai’ – the ‘red thread’ that runs through the creative. In the following chapters, Gaby is served a variety of contextual Emirates ads on different screens throughout her day; from personalised in-flight entertainment on Xbox at lunch to the Emirates onboard Shower Spa on her tablet later in the afternoon. Throughout the entire sequence, our countdown to landing keeps ticking down to build excitement. Emirates is one of the first brands to explore integrating Mobile Beacon and Cortana technology, so that evening, when Gaby voice searches for cocktail bars while riding in a taxi, she receives contextually relevant information about Emirates’ in-flight cocktail menu.

BRAND: O2 Telefonica (Germany)

AGENCY: ZenithOptimedia

SCREENS: MSN, Xbox 360, Windows 8 Ads-in-Apps, and Skype

In order to promote its O2 Blue Tariff, which offers customers local tariff prices while roaming internationally, Microsoft developed a multi-screen ad experience for O2 Telefonica and its media agency ZenithOptimedia. In the campaign, one creative is sequenced across the multiple screens and features different messaging to call out key features of Blue Tariff as well as connect with O2’s TV commercial currently airing in market. Targeting ‘Erika’, a model who regularly travels, the first two banner ads on MSN and Xbox deliver sequential messaging on O2’s new tariff alongside a picture of a skateboarding girl. In the third, as Erika talks to friends on Skype, the skateboarder is joined by a friend, reminding Erika just how powerful shared experiences can be. The final ad, served on Xbox, encourages her to explore the offer further, driving her through to the promotions and offers section of the website.

BRAND: Ford Europe


SCREENS: Xbox 360, MSN, Windows 8 Ads-in-Apps, Windows Phone and Skype

In this envisioning multi-screen campaign, Ford and Microsoft show how future auto buyers could discover new Ford technologies through a mix of big data and contextual advertising to effectively drive brand awareness and auto dealer insight.  For example, Ford knows – through search data – that Charles, based in Oslo, Norway, is considering purchasing a new car. When Charles fires up Bing News on Windows 8 he is served an ad that invites him to wipe away a layer of frost – it’s zero degrees in Oslo - and provides information on the car’s heated windscreen. On his commute, he is invited to play a game that brings Ford’s EcoBoost engine to life. Cortana offers him the option to book an appointment with the dealer. When his train is running late, Ford offers him nearby Wi-Fi options. Later, on Xbox, he receives a free Forza game for browsing two more Ford technologies, and the road leads back to the dealership where he can share his smart driving data.

BRAND: Activision (UK)


SCREENS: MSN, Xbox 360, Windows 8 Ads-in App, Skype

In line with its reputation as a cutting edge games publisher, Activision and its agency MEC constantly reinvents its media planning and buying to drive deeper engagement with consumers. This ad experience uses Creative Sequencing and Frequency Controls to build anticipation around the next instalment in the series of iconic Call of Duty games: Advanced Warfare. It cleverly uses cross-screen by showing consumers a unique piece of Call of Duty content and a call to action on each platform – MSN, Xbox, Windows 8, Skype – adding different layers of the story through each brand interaction, and pushing the consumer down the purchasing funnel.

BRAND: Microsoft (International)

SCREENS: MSN, Skype, Xbox 360 and Windows 8 Ads-in-Apps

To engage with consumers in the market for our next tablet or PC, Microsoft has set out to increase awareness of the great apps in the Windows Store. The campaign tells a connected story using popular apps that do more on Windows. The story has three chapters that relate to our customers like Rebecca, a busy mother who wants a tablet that can help her organize her life, connect with friends and family and stay entertained. While Rebecca browses celebrity gossip over breakfast, she sees an ad that shows how easy it is to snap, edit and share photos across her phone, tablet, PC and TV with OneDrive. Then when she’s at the park with the kids after school on Skype, chapter two would reveal how she can stay in touch with loved ones and share the latest news over Skype with Windows apps that open side-by-side. Later, while browsing recipe ideas, she discovers fun entertainment apps with movies that move seamlessly from tablet to TV. Finally, she taps to expand to full screen where she can go deeper into each experience.

I hope this whistle-stop tour of our latest innovation has provided some useful insight into how we envision using Creative Sequencing and Frequency Controls with brands and agencies, and the benefits that some of our customers are already enjoying. I look forward to talking to delegates on the Croisette and at the Palais this week about how this new technology is capable of bringing storytelling to life for the multi-screen, ‘always-on’ consumer.


Stephen Kim, VP Global Accounts and Agencies, Microsoft

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