It’s Do or Die time for Windows

Microsoft Windows Canada sends PC users on a reality TV-inspired international adventure.

Most students would easily say they could not survive without their computer – but can they survive with only their laptop? 
Microsoft Windows Canada is taking a gutsy leap of faith – and making its target consumer do the same – with “Do or Die,” a online and offline challenge to college-age students who think they can make it in a foreign city with no cash and no suitcase to lean on.
Armed with only their PCs, on May 26, three winners – selected via a video-submission and social-media voting contest – were sent out on a mission somewhere in the world (the location had yet to be disclosed at press time), accompanied by a friend to record their adventures on a Windows phone and share them with Windows’ Facebook community.
The idea was spawned in focus groups Microsoft did with its young target demo.
“We learned that 54% of [students] said that if they were stranded on a desert island, the one thing they would take with them is their PC,” says Aaron Coldiron, Windows consumer business group lead, Microsoft Canada. “We’re putting that to the test and picking three college-age students and sending them to weird places around the world to see if they can make it.
“This is a bit of a first for us, in terms of how daring it is. In a sense it’s pushing the reality show format a little bit,” he adds, explaining that the contestants’ adventures will be 100% unscripted. Campaign creative and contest development was handled by CP+B in Toronto.
The national media plan to promote “Do or Die” – developed by UM Canada – includes wild postings, online media and three “immersive” transit shelters in Toronto. “The transit shelter [is] completely wrapped to look like a marketplace in North Korea,” Coldiron explains. “As you walk in, it triggers sounds of the marketplace. So the creative concept is: could you survive here? Could you ‘Do or Die?’”
The online execution features rich media ads with an unconventional (for Windows) creative take: “You’ll see a marketplace and a person walk on and a bunny hopping across the screen. All of a sudden he eats the bunny and [the ad] says ‘What would you eat to survive?’”Coldiron describes. “We’re trying to push the Windows brand a little bit,” he continues. “We’re trying to…do something a little bit fun and out of the ordinary.”
Microsoft Windows Canada recruited the field of candidates earlier this year, selecting a top 10 to be voted on by the social media community. The top three winners had 10 days to “survive” in their environment, using only their phones and PCs to reach out to others to find food, lodging and a means to get around.
The goal, from Microsoft’s point of view, is to start the conversation, says Coldiron, and then let the community run with it as the contestants reach out for help. “The community will be really critical in helping them survive,” he says.
Besides the trip, contestants win a laptop, phone and pre-paid credit card worth $1,000.
“Students see the world as completely open to them, as theirs for the taking,” says Coldiron. “We think that’s perfect alignment with Windows as well, because Windows is designed for people who are doers. And that’s part of what we want to prove – that the PC is a great companion for people who want to go out and change the world, and this is what this campaign is all about.”