SEATTLE - Kylie started her career with Microsoft at the age of 4. Within six months, she was the new face of Windows.
"Hi, my name is Kylie and I found these happy words all over my dad's computer," she says on one of two television commercials for Windows 7 that feature her.
In the spot, she points to the 7's on a computer screen filled with positive Windows reviews.
She then creates a slide show, pasting reviews of Windows 7 over photos of kittens, marshmallows and a piglet dressed up as a bunny while "The Final Countdown" plays in the background.
Windows is "snappy and repon-kiss-ive," she says.
The ad was successful enough that Microsoft ran a second ad with Kylie making a slide show set to the "A-Team" theme music.
It's enough to embarrass a full-grown adult who doesn't know a USB from a unicorn.
"She has become an unofficial spokesperson in really representing simplicity, but also the customer voice of what we want our brand image to be around Windows," said Brad Brooks, corporate vice president of Windows consumer marketing.
Microsoft found the Orange County, Calif., girl through an open casting call in Los Angeles in February for a series of ads for Windows Live, Microsoft's online services offering.
In Kylie's first ad, she uploaded a photo of her fish Dorothy, sharpened the colors, then e-mailed it to her parents. "I'm a PC and I'm 4," she says at the end.
Citing privacy, Microsoft declined to release her full name. The company plans to bring her to the Windows 7 launch event Thursday in New York.
"I have a 6-year-old, and I think Kylie is a super overachiever," Brooks said. "She came in incredibly articulate, she knew how to run around with a mouse, she knew how to plug in a camera and start playing with the photos. It was amazing how little training we had to do with her."
Kylie's commercials are the highest-rated brand image and likability ads Microsoft has ever run, Brooks said.
He said to expect the marketing around Windows 7 to feature the voice and stories of the customer.
It's a different tack from the ad campaign that launched Windows Vista, the previous version. Those ads, themed "the wow starts now," featured NBA star LeBron James.
After early glitches in Vista, Apple launched a volley of "Hi I'm a Mac" ads with actor Justin Long poking fun at the PC, played by actor John Hodgman.
This year Microsoft made headway with its laptop-hunter ads, featuring regular people shopping for a computer who choose a PC over a Mac mainly because the PC costs less.
Microsoft hopes to recapture the magic of the launch of Windows 95, a major upgrade from Windows 3.1.
"It goes down in marketing and PR history as one of their most freakishly wildly successful product launches ever," said Bruce Francis, a former CNBC reporter who now works at Salesforce.com as vice president of corporate strategy. "I did 16 live shots that day. It was a huge media event. It was a circus. It was wild."
(c) 2009, The Seattle Times.
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