Q&A: Microsoft Office Live Meeting Takes TV Spotlight on 'The Apprentice'

Posted by bink on December 1 2005, 8:31 PM. Posted in Live Meeting.

Donald Trump (second from right) of “The Apprentice” with (L-R) Microsoft’s Michele Maynard, Janice V. Kapner and Dustin Grosse. Tonight’s episode of the TV hit challenges competitors to concisely demonstrate the value of Microsoft Office Live Meeting 2005, and Microsoft’s Real Time Collaboration Group judges the winning team. REDMOND, Wash., Dec. 1, 2005 – Since earlier this year, the Real Time Collaboration (RTC) Group has been co-op marketing Microsoft Office Live Meeting 2005 through a partnership with the reality TV show “The Apprentice.” Tonight the group will play its trump card: Linking up with The Donald himself.

In October, the RTC Group began hosting a weekly online Live Meeting seminar called “Fired Not Hired: The Day after ‘The Apprentice’” to talk to the contestant who was fired from the show the previous night by Donald Trump. The day-after live Web seminars delve into business lessons learned by the ousted contestants, and invite widespread audience participation through the interactive features in Live Meeting.

But tonight, Live Meeting’s visibility will soar to new heights, as RTC Group executives join Trump center stage. They will pose a challenge to the competing teams in the form of a task surrounding Live Meeting and then judge the results.

Mark Burnett, creator and executive producer of “The Apprentice,” said, “Microsoft is the best in the world at helping companies and individuals solve real-life business problems with their technology. Featuring this real example of a business-to-business solution is just another way we are pushing the envelope to bring real-life business challenges to television and to our viewers.”

PressPass spoke with Dustin Grosse, general manager of sales and marketing for RTC, and Janice V. Kapner, director of marketing communications for RTC, to find out more about this creative marketing campaign as well as their appearance on “The Apprentice.”

PressPass: How did Live Meeting get connected with “The Apprentice”?

Grosse: It started about a year ago, when we were developing plans for RTC’s unified launch, including the launch of Microsoft Office Live Communications Server 2005, Microsoft Office Communicator 2005 and Live Meeting. We wanted to do something different – more colorful and creative than what might be considered a typical launch event. So we had a team brainstorming session on what’s hot, and what would get us some high-profile attention with the right audience. We approached Mark Burnett, the creator and executive producer of “The Apprentice,” and were delighted when he wanted to work with us.

PressPass: Why did you choose “The Apprentice”?

Kapner: We thought, “What more culturally engaging program could there be that speaks so well to our demographics with a business-centric message?” It was a bold Microsoft think tank move. A high percentage of information workers and business decision-makers watch “The Apprentice,” and they are one of Live Meeting's primary targets.