Ramping up excitement about the event of the year





Each year, the Microsoft Imagine Cup challenges students around the globe to create technology solutions to the world’s toughest problems. Apps for people with Alzheimers and phones that can diagnose pneumonia are just some of the brilliant ideas young competitors have come up with.

In 2012, it was Microsoft Australia’s turn to host the Imagine Cup. Promoting the competition was the Australian subsidiary’s biggest marketing campaign of the year, and they were looking for imaginative ways to ramp up excitement.

The internal comms team turned to Water Cooler to get the word out, and get employees across Australia involved as ambassadors and volunteers. The brief required us to be highly creative, within existing branding for both local internal comms and the Imagine Cup.

The solution: get the whole family involved

Working with our creative partner, Martin & Vic, we took inspiration from the idea that the winners of the competition could be future world leaders. The campaign was devised around the concept of ‘Today’s Future’. To encourage employees to get involved, we adapted the internal comms’ existing strapline ‘Do the extraordinary’, urging employees to ‘Help them do the extraordinary’.

We used the full range of channels to get employees involved, including videos, posters, emails, intranet banners, floor and wall decals, coffee cups and T-shirts.

But the real secret to the campaign’s success? Its stars. All the materials featured employees’ children, grandchildren and other young family members who took part in a fun day of filming and photography.

And rather than simply update the senior leadership team on the campaign, we played an attention-grabbing trick on them. We employed a child actor to barge in on one of their meetings, announcing himself as their new CEO. Fun and memorable, the stunt proved a powerful way to get management’s buy-in for a campaign about helping the next generation do the extraordinary.

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