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Google rolls out major ad campaign for business apps

LONDON - Google is launching a large-scale marketing campaign to promote its suite of online office applications, asking people to ditch Microsoft Office and 'Go Google'.

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In a rare display of commercial marketing, Google will install billboards along major roads in four major US cities, including New York, Chicago, Boston and San Francisco, which tell the story of an anonymous IT manager who decides to 'Go Google'.

The billboards will be changed everyday for a month in the form a daily narrative. For example, the first billboard reads: Day #1: Just heard about going Google. I want to know more", with a link to Google's Apps At Work website.

Go Google ad

The campaign promotes Google's online business applications, including Google Docs, Calendar and Gmail, as a superior alternative to Microsoft Office, which the search giant launched in 2007.

Google said about 1.75m businesses and organisations are now using its applications instead of Microsoft's -- a mere drop in the bucket to millions of businesses that use Microsoft Office.

The company, which has traditionally shyed away from any sort of marketing, is also relying on positive word of mouth and social media to spread its message.

On the Google Apps page, the company asks users to tell their own story about 'Going Google' on Twitter.

The company developed an online calculator to show companies how much money they can save by dumping Microsoft Office and taking up Google.

Google has also created a website simply to help users spread the word about its business apps.

It provides email templates for employees to send their IT team, or for IT workers to send to their bosses, asking to switch over to Google Apps.

It encourages some guerrilla marketing tactics, by making available a number of posters that users can print off and leave anonymously around the office, which read: "Please, please, please. Can we go Google?".

The "spread the word" website is a similar technique to Mozilla, which has its own word of mouth page for its Firefox browser -- recently celebrating its billionth download.

Michael Lock, director of sales and operations for Google's enterprise division in North America, said:  "People don't necessarily think of Google when it comes to how we can help companies. The expansion is needed to handle the interest and demand we are seeing in Google's apps."

The campaign shows Google's eagerness to promote its business applications before Microsoft rolls out Office 2010 next year.

The newest version of Office is expected to be portable with 'cloud' computing, where users can back up all their data online as well as on hard drives, much like Google's products.

The two companies have gone tit-for-tat in the past month with various announcements and product releases.

In July, Google announced it was working on its own operating system to challenge Microsoft's dominant Windows platform, which followed the release of Microsoft's newest search offering Bing.

The 'Go Google' campaign looks to take some of the spotlight off Microsoft and Yahoo!, which announced a search advertising partnership last week.

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