Microsoft Joins Gore in Green Concert Effort

Three dots, three dashes, and three dots. It’s the international signal for distress, and the central imagery being used in the MSN Network’s global environmental campaign, Save Our Selves. The effort, intended to raise awareness of environmental issues, will span television, film, radio and the Internet and will be launched with a 24-hour concert called Live Earth.

The “Save Our Selves (SOS) – The Campaign for a Climate in Crisis” initiative is being promoted by MSN, which has partnered with former Vice President Al Gore, concert producer Kevin Wall, musician Pharrell Williams and actress Cameron Diaz, as spokespeople for the campaign. The Live Earth concert is scheduled to take place on July 7, 2007 on all seven continents, with over 100 different musical acts participating, according to the company. The concert itself will be shown on MSN.

The campaign’s Web site, which provides tips on energy conservation and allows users to register for concert updates and newsletters. MSN’s efforts are expected to go beyond the single Web site, though. Joanne Bradford, corporate VP and CMO of MSN said during a public announcement that the event will be a full experience that will continue throughout the network. “This isn’t just one day for us; this is about creating change and giving to people the education to change it,” she said.

When Live Earth occurs, the promoters are hoping to attract two billion people through concert attendance and broadcasts, and proceeds from the event will go to The Alliance for Climate Protection which is chaired by Gore.

“This is at an unprecedented scale and an incredible opportunity for [advertisers] to connect their message with an audience that is global in reach, that is going to be engaged in terms of caring deeply about the issue, and will enable [advertisers] to connect with a movement,” said Adam Sohn, director in the online services group at Microsoft. “There’s going to be new advertising inventory through this effort, obviously as part of this network we are going to be building out,” he continued.

Live Earth is being produced by Control Room, which had partnered with AOL on the Live 8 concert before shedding that relationship to join with MSN.

“We did a small event with Nokia over New Year’s,” said Bradford, referring to Nokia New Year’s Eve, during which MSN streamed live concerts held in Hong Kong, Mumbai, Berlin, Rio and New York. “We cut our teeth doing this, and we know that we can execute that very well.”

Gore said his Current TV cable channel would contribute pro bono work on the campaign. To Gore, the Save Our Selves campaign and concert are extensions of his speech and subsequent documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth.” He said, “We have to get the message of urgency and hope, not only to the thousands I have been able to reach, or the millions the movie reached, but the billions of people around the world.”

While the Live Earth concert is set to bring people to the campaign, it’s only the start of a longer campaign to focus on global warming issues, according to the organizers.

“We’re not talking about building a big machine to suck up all the CO2 and shoot it out into space. We’re just asking for people to be more conscientious in their lives; that’s easy and very exciting,” said Cameron Diaz. “And we’re going to throw a party first to tell everyone about it.”

Enid Burns contributed to this article.

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