Cannes Lions

Collective Project

POSSIBLE, Seattle / MICROSOFT / 2016

Case Film
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Microsoft needed to boost awareness and usage of OneNote, a free product that facilitates note taking and streamlines collaboration. Instead of a typical package of banners and paid media, Microsoft took a far less traditional approach, and it paid off.

To create lifelong users, the team set its sights on college students. Their passion for new ideas and need to collaborate made them the perfect target. However, this demographic was discovered to be largely tool-agnostic. They’re far more focused on their passions than the tools used to bring them to life. Microsoft needed to make them care.

This was accomplished by finding incredible examples of students who were creating mind-blowing work in a team environment that made the world a better place. By putting OneNote in their hands, Microsoft demonstrated how the power of an idea can be amplified through collaboration, community and exceptional tools. The campaign became known as The Collective Project.

Before making anything, Microsoft had to get a better understanding of who they were talking to. Millennials are the most media-savvy generation yet and will tune out traditional media tactics. They look for content served up in their native social channels that adds value to their lives.

One example of how this campaign took flight revolved around a student named Albert Manero and his project called Limbitless Solutions. Albert creates 3D-printed bionic limbs for children, free to families in need. But his story needed an extra boost of power to reach a larger audience. After a lot of hustle, Microsoft connected with Iron Man himself, Robert Downey Jr., to help shine a spotlight on Albert’s work. The actor was so touched by Limbitless Solutions he agreed to participate pro bono. This was a defining moment for the power of the collective. The resulting video was the perfect combination of unbranded messaging and emotional subject matter that appealed directly to the target audience. Launching on Downey Jr.’s Facebook page and driving to an owned channel added to the authenticity of the project, also giving Albert’s idea the stage it deserved.

This created an impact that reached far beyond the limited media budget of $2M.

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