Microsoft Pulls A LonelyGirl15… And His Name Parker Whittle

Posted Jun 25, 2008

Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) has launched a pretty unique advertising campaign.  The campaign is to influence people to use Hotmail and Windows Live Messenger more in the name of philanthropy.  Microsoft’s campaign is called “I’m Initiative.”

Microsoft and their ad agency created a fictitious character named Parker Whittle to help them push their initiative further.  Whittle is a man in his 20s that is questioning whether he has done enough to help others.  Apparently Whittle lives near downtown Los Angeles and he is aiming to stay awake for 30 days in an attempt to make as much money for charity as possible by using the Microsoft communication services.

Whittle will be uploading photos to Facebook and Flickr, have professional experience on LinkedIn, upload videos on YouTube, and bookmark items on StumbleUpon,, and MySpace.  The agency behind Whittle will be testing how many Windows Live Messenger and Hotmail messages/IMs he gets over the 30 days and will donate accordingly.

The agency behind this idea is McCann Erickson.  Microsoft is backing the I’m Initiative with about $5 million or so.  The campaign is advertised on Facebook,, Pandora and PerezHilton.

Parker Whittle’s description about himself is below:

“My name is Parker, and Iâ??m just a guy with a computer and good intentions. A couple of months ago, I found out about the iâ??m Initiative.

Itâ??s a Microsoft program that gives to a social cause every time you use Windows Live Messenger or Windows Live Hotmail. I saw an ad that said, â??The more you talk, the more we give.â? So I thought, if I get a bunch of people talking for 30 days, how much will they give?

I hope you join me. Thanks for checking out the Talkathon!”

I think the idea is pretty cheesy, but then again I always thought the LonelyGirl15 idea was pretty lame too.  From a creative standpoint, this is an interesting experiment.  I also like the fact that it is in the name of charity.  But If I were Parker, I’d change my description.  He sounds too Microsoft-ified and not like the fictitious real person that he is supposed to be (make sense?).

Whittle’s blog is available at: