Microsoft is opening its first collaborative marketing agency in San Francisco in early December. Aptly entitled Solution Studio 415 (the bay area city’s area code is 415) the new 18,000-square-foot space in San Francisco’s SOMA neighborhood will be the first “Solution Studio” in a series of new workspaces Microsoft plans to open around the world.
Microsoft hasn’t named any brand partners to date, but once the doors open on its new digs in San Francisco, the company is expected to focus its work with top brands in retail, automotive and consumer packaged goods. The studios “will bring together Microsoft design-led thinkers and technologists to co-create innovative solutions in partnership with our customers,” Rick Chavez, GM of the online services division at Microsoft, noted in a blog post announcing the new studio in San Francisco.
Microsoft’s new agency play will certainly garner attention throughout the creative ad industry, not just for its mission to introduce and connect brand campaigns to its consumer-facing products, but also for the competition it could represent for agencies. It’s unclear what role agencies would have under Microsoft’s approach.
“Our ultimate goal is to bring the same kind of design-led thinking that birthed the Kinect and Arc Touch Mouse to the table, to help marketers engage in rich and relevant ways with their customers, and solve some of the toughest marketing challenges along the way,” Chavez added. “The physical space will be designed to enable Microsoft teams to work in small groups, side-by-side with customers, to leverage research, insights and product/platform releases to co-create solutions for brands to connect with consumers.”
Microsoft’s research on the consumer purchase decision process will guide teams as they determine which experiences drive the greatest value for marketers. The firm’s Consumer Decision Journey framework divides the process into five stages: pre-trigger, trigger, pre shopping, in-store and usage.
“After that, our design teams will work with customers on creative ways for the brands to best engage with their specific consumer targets at the right moment and on the right screen,” Chavez noted.
As for why Microsoft picked San Francisco for its first Solution Studio before other major cities, Chavez called the city “a hotbed for creativity and innovative thinking,” adding that “the city by the bay has always been home to industry-disrupting innovators.”
“Since the first wave of Internet innovation, San Francisco itself emerged as a counter-balance of sorts to the rest of Silicon Valley, a bit more focused on digital media innovation,” he wrote.