March 18, 2010
THE CHALLENGE: To build Microsoft’s image as a Canadian business leader, innovator and committed corporate citizen by creating an engaging communication ‘vehicle’ to add credibility and a certain gravitas to the company’s corporate image in Canada.
THE SITUATION: In the eyes of key business decision makers (and the Press), Microsoft in Canada has been seen as a diligent provider of tools and infrastructure, but not as a significant player in the Canadian corporate environment. As a branch office of Microsoft U.S., it doesn’t have much of an image of its own. Whereas Microsoft Canada is a player at the table when Information Technology is up for discussion, it has not – historically – had a part to play when the discussion turns to deeper matters pertaining to the health and welfare of Canadian business as a whole.
THE ESSENTIAL TRUTH:
The truth is… we figured out there was a lot of class to be gained for mass marketer Microsoft if an energized relationship with academia could be forged. The right school can add the right kind of image. For Microsoft, it was Rotman at U. of T. We put together a high profile event called “CAN>WIN: Competing to Win in the Global Economy .“ It starred the much-respected poster boy of ‘competitive advantage’, Harvard’s Michael Porter. Rotman’s dean, Roger Martin, shared the stage with Porter to review a 10-year study of what makes countries competitive… with a special focus on Canada. Hana Gartner hosted, and Steve Ballmer came to the stage to the tune of BTO’s “Takin’ Care of Business”. The Globe and Mail was all over it, and suddenly Microsoft Canada was a business darling.
CAN>WIN became a perennial event that can be dialed up to add some serious gravity to the Microsoft Canada brand. CAN>WIN is about getting the right people on the stage and in the audience, and over the years has attracted Bill Gates, Al Gore, Gary Hamel and a parade of Canadian business superstars. History in the making, the CAN>WIN brand lives on.