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Putting engineers in space with Microsoft

Well, nearly. Our Mission: Mars training event for Microsoft was so good that even NASA wanted a go, and that's close enough for us.

Unexciting. Mundane. That’s the way most developers would have described previous training events. That is until Microsoft asked us to create a more engaging experience. So how do you turn a typically humdrum training session into a dynamic and engaging event that wins the mind and heart of the modern enterprise developer? Send them to Mars. (Not literally, but close.)

We created Mission Mars: Fourth Horizon – an interactive storyline that imagines a future where we’ve colonized Mars. The mission enlists developers for Operation Earth-Mars Bridge; a desperate attempt to reconnect the Martian astronauts with Earth using Microsoft tools and technologies.

Over 5,000 attendees in 31 countries

84% motivated to use Microsoft products and services

Mission Mars provides an innovative, hands-on puzzle-solving approach, immersing developers into technology-centric “missions” that solve tangible problems in a scenario-based approach.

We wove this fictional storyline into our developer communications at every step. From custom email invites and teaser videos, to landing pages and registration workflows. Finally, when our developer attendees stepped into the experience, we made sure all materials in the room were immersive and themed. From video briefings with the Commander in Chief, to big screen displays that charted our developers’ progress.

We even created branded swag to make the developer’s experience unlike anything they’ve encountered with Microsoft before.

The program resulted in higher feedback ratings and exceeded registration goals. In the U.S. alone, we drove campaign awareness to over 500K developers through social demand generation activities. Mission Mars proved so successful that it expanded to nearly 60 sessions in over 30 countries.

Even NASA took notice of our work. A Facebook ad inspired a NASA Director’s son which lead to a closed invitation, onsite Mission Mars workshop for NASA engineers, partners, and students at Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX. This speaks volumes to the effectiveness of the Mission Mars: Fourth Horizon project and sets a new benchmark for developer engagement.

This is Mission Mars: Fourth Horizon, signing out.

First contact with NASA

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