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Microsoft hopes to show its Cloud Power

The software maker is kicking off its largest-ever ad campaign targeting businesses.

Microsoft is touting its "cloud power" in a new advertising campaign which includes billboards, such as these that currently line Seattle's Sea-Tac airport. Josh Lowensohn/CNET

REDMOND, Wash.--After spending the last several months touting itself as "All In" when it comes to cloud computing, Microsoft now plans to spend several hundred million dollars to convince businesses what that actually means.

The software maker is launching its largest-ever ad campaign targeting businesses, touting "Cloud Power" and its benefits over traditional server-based computing. The ads, which include TV, Internet, print, and outdoor ads, feature the line "cloud power" with actors portraying different types of customers and offering various takes on what products like Windows Azure, Office 365 and Windows Server can offer.

Microsoft's business marketing spiel for the last several months has been the "All in" message, which kicked off after a March speech at the University of Washington by CEO Steve Ballmer. Now the company said it needs to shift that message to really explain to customers why that even matters--pointing to the lower start-up costs and increased flexibility that the cloud can deliver.

"We really do see that cloud computing is way we haven't necessarily seen since we went from mainframe computing to server-client," Microsoft's Amy Barzdukas said in an interview.

Beyond the massive advertising campaign, which will run for at least the current fiscal year ending in July, Microsoft is also doing a series of events, including at least 200 separate gatherings with more than 50,000 customers. The company will also feature longer "Cloud Conversations" with real customers on its Web site.

Among the first spots is a television ad that will run on Monday Night Football as well as a full page ad in Monday's Wall Street Journal. Cloud Power ads also are featured already at Sea-Tac Seattle's main airport.

"It's ironic," Barzdukas said. "In Seattle, we've seen a lot of competitors' ads in our airports for a long time."

The ads were created by Deutsch, the latest agency to take on Microsoft's business advertising duties. The "All In" and "Because its everybody's business" campaigns were created by JWT, while McCann Erickson did the "People-ready" campaign.