Unsung heroes of the digital age. For the largest enterprise launch in its history, Microsoft honored the IT pros who keep the lights on so we can sleep. 

In 2008, Microsoft staged one of the most important launches in the company’s history: Windows Server 2008, Visual Studio 2008 and SQL Server 2008. Since these products were already in active beta testing, the challenge was to build interest with no major news announcement. Opts Ideas, lead agency for the launch, developed an “outside in” approach, focusing on IT professionals and developers who are adopting the latest technologies in unforeseen ways.

The Heroes Happen {Here} book profiled 79 IT professionals and developers from 18 countries who are making a difference using Microsoft’s enterprise software. These are the unsung heroes of the digital age—men and women who keep our world running and in order, but whose names we rarely hear. 

As the book’s Managing Editor, Alison edited all profiles and orchestrated copy flow between the designer, two writers, and Microsoft’s technical editor (four cities in all), with new profiles and photographs dispatched every few days from around the globe. The team produced a gorgeous, coffee-table quality book, translated into 19 languages, which became a commemorative cornerstone of the launch.

The Launch
In February 2008, Microsoft held its launch wave at the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles, an event the company called the largest enterprise launch in its history.

Microsoft flew dozens of the profiled heroes in from around the globe. Their stories lent a powerful emotional anchor to the event theme: Rather than Microsoft telling its story, its customers described, in their own words, how the technology helps people’s lives.

The Impact
Microsoft’s Bob Visse stated that Windows Server Business increased over 15% during the months after the launch, translating to billions of dollars in revenue directly attributable to the launch wave. The event generated 589 top-tier media stories worldwide.

Said Visse: “We wanted it to be the largest IT pro and developer outreach that the company’s ever done… It’s a testament to the work that we’ve done with the Opts team that we’ve been able to reach those really big numbers.”

The Heroes Happen {Here} campaign won the 2008 EIBTM Global award for Best Product Launch, as well as a 2009 PRO Award, which honors superior achievement in promotion marketing.


Client: Microsoft

Project: Microsoft’s 2008 Global Server launch wave: Heroes Happen {Here} book

Agency: Opts Ideas  

Services: Content management, editing

Book Design: Marnie Aulabaugh


“Alison worked with me as a managing editor on a 176-page book that was translated into 19 different languages. Not only did she effectively wrangle two writers composing 76 different stories, she managed three proofing stages and tracked all of the translations. All under a very short deadline. She was a pleasure to work with—professional, polite, always in a good mood and willing to go the extra steps—I wouldn’t work with anyone else knowing there is an Alison Macondray out there.”

Marnie Aulabaugh
Creative Director, Heroes Happen {Here}


“Opts Ideas had the lead creative agency role in one of Microsoft’s most important global product launches. Through a referral from a trusted colleague, we discovered Alison midway through a critical stage of the campaign. She hit the ground running, quickly integrated herself into the team, added much-needed structure to the process, and was instrumental in helping us complete the job on time and on budget. The client was thrilled with the outcome.”

Chris J. Fitzgerald
Vice President and Partner, Opts Ideas