Microsoft: Child of the ’90s Viral Video

Content Creation

The Client

Internet Explorer is Microsoft’s fast and fluid web browser that makes it easy to navigate the web. 



The Opportunity

To promote Internet Explorer 9, Microsoft was looking for a way to reconnect with users (especially millennials) and shift public perception of the browser, as previous versions were often mocked for their flaws. To do this, they took a self-deprecating approach with “The Browser you Loved to Hate” campaign and brought us in to create additional supporting content.

The Solution

As we had previously created shareable social assets for the BYLTH campaign, the Microsoft team initially asked us to create an infographic to promote the new Internet Explorer. But, having immersed ourselves in the brand, we felt that Microsoft had a unique opportunity to make an impact with a larger piece of visual content—a flagship campaign video to remind their audience of their connection with the brand.

The Execution

The more we thought about what type of messaging might resonate with the target audience, the more we realized that Internet Explorer was the first gateway to the Internet for the millennial generation. Being millennials ourselves, we began to reminisce about our early web experiences—and how far we’ve come since those dial-up days. This gave us the idea for a nostalgia-driven narrative anchored around the tagline, “You grew up, so did we.” By harkening back to an era of Tamagotchis and Super Soakers, we could tell a simple story to remind the millennial viewer that Internet Explorer was there then and is ready to reconnect with them now.

With the concept approved by the Microsoft team, we took the idea from script to production, tracking down every touchstone of a ‘90s childhood and traveling to Montreal to collaborate with the talented production company L’Eloi. For art direction, we focused on the classic ‘90s palette, creating a candy-colored world featuring all our favorite childhood costars (Lisa Frank, Pogs, Trolls, and more). And to create the right tone musically, we collaborated with our friends at Marmoset Music for a custom composition to support the VO and visual narrative.

The final product was a #tbt visual feast, allowing millennials to time-travel with Internet Explorer over the course of two minutes. Little did we know it would be an instant viral hit.

The Results

We’re happy to say the video was a phenomenal success. In addition to receiving 7 million views in its first week, it also received global coverage and multiple award nominations, including:

  • 50 million YouTube views (to date)
  • Webby and Mashie award nominations
  • Top prize in the film category on Ads of the World
  • Third Most Watched Ad on YouTube in 2013 (Adweek)
  • Top-tier coverage in news outlets (PC Magazine, Mashable, Wired, Huffington Post)

Most importantly, it increased Microsoft’s brand power index by 18% (PR Daily) and helped Internet Explorer reach 57.8% of worldwide market share (The Next Web).

While we’re proud of the work, we’re especially proud of our team for pushing a creative idea that wasn’t initially asked for—and grateful to the Microsoft team for being open-minded and collaborative all along. It can be intimidating to take a creative risk, but this is exactly why we believe in the power of experimentation.

From the Client