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Microsoft’s Kathleen Hall on the advantage of sitting out of the upfronts

2022 was a big year for Microsoft, from partnering with Netflix on its plunge into ads to announcing a deal to acquire video game publisher Activision Blizzard. The leader behind all the company’s branding decisions is its chief brand officer Kathleen Hall. Hall, who has risen through the ranks at Microsoft for the past 14 years, describes how she manages a brand as massive as Microsoft on the season 4 debut of The Current Podcast.

“There's an emotional connection that people have to brands,” Hall says. “So, whether it's a CEO watching a football game and seeing a Surface on the sidelines or the Xbox Adaptive controller ad in the Super Bowl, or seeing a very specific Azure ad, it's still Microsoft. It's all about what we're connecting with him and how, and it's about emotion as well as rationality.”

Hall reflects on what it takes to create award-winning campaigns in line with the company’s “values and truths,” sitting out the upfronts, and her reaction to Microsoft's partnership with Netflix.

“It's a great recognition of our evolution as a company where we bridge the worlds of tech, social context, and media,” Hall says. “And I think we were a surprising choice for some people. But I think for me, it's a very logical choice based on our history and experience in the sales side of the world and the tech side of the world. So, I'm excited."