HoneyTrek is on National TV! Go Behind the Scenes of Our Microsoft Commercial

Mike Howard Anne Howard Microsoft CommercialA few months ago, the folks at the McCann Erickson (one the largest advertising agencies in the world), reached out to us. They said they were working on a Microsoft television campaign, showcasing how real people use PCs to achieve their passion, and they thought HoneyTrek could be a good fit. Flattered and flabbergasted, we started an intense interview process, and three months later we are on national TV! The whole experience from start to present has been incredibly humbling and absolutely surreal…here’s how it all went down.

HoneyTrek Working on the RoadHoneyTrek began as a grand idea to honeymoon around the world, immerse ourselves in other cultures, seek life-changing adventures, and inspire other people to think beyond their country’s borders. Having ditched our desk jobs to follow our dream, we run HoneyTrek from our “satellite offices” (aka. beach chairs, bus stations, housesits, ferry boats, jungle huts, etc.) All we need is a laptop and each other to set up HoneyTrek HQ.

Microsoft in MazatlanAfter a few rounds of Skype calls with then McCann and Microsoft teams, they said they wanted us to test out the new Dell XPS 13, loaded with Windows 10. Trying to contain our excitement, we sent them our mailing address in Mazatlan, Mexico. Their email reply (on a Friday) said, “Thanks for the address. The Senior Manager and Director of Global Advertising will be arriving on Tuesday.” Wait, what? They flew their upper management from Seattle to Mazatlan (totally crazy side note: Seattle & Mazatlan are actually Sister Cities…must be fate!) to hand-deliver and set up our computers in person! We spent the next three weeks exploring the latest Windows features (Microsoft Edge, Cortana personal assistant, Universal Apps, 3D Maps…to name a few) and putting the laptops through the HoneyTrek ringer (7-hour bus rides, sun-drenched work spaces, blogging marathons, etc.) and it passed with flying colors. One thing led to the next and before we knew it, we were on a first class flight to LA to shoot a TV commercial.

Shooting Microsoft Commercial with Jake ScottWe pulled up to the gates of Universal Studios, and it was buzzing with camera crews, set builders, show runners, and glamorous people. A man with a RSA Films badge walked up to us, “Are you guys HoneyTrek?” With a mega brand like Microsoft we knew this wasn’t going to be a ragtag crew, but we didn’t realize they hired one of the best production companies in the world. RSA stands for Ridley Scott Associates; he’s the Academy Award Winning director of Gladiator, Black Hawk Down, The Martian, and a dozen more acclaimed films. He has an incredible team, including his son and director for our commercial, Jake Scott. You’ve seen Jake’s work…the Budweiser “Simply Put” Super Bowl ad with Helen Mirran, Johnny Walker’s “Gentleman’s Wager” with Jude Law, and music videos for U2, REM, Radiohead, and plenty more. No pressure, HoneyTrek.

Microsoft WardrobeWe were escorted to Wardrobe for a fitting with the two costume designers. Kim and David had been studying our “style” from photos and videos over the past week and selecting outfits to match. They had us try on and photograph a dozen different looks, incorporating some of our favorite personal accessories, until we had solid options to show Jake. Red linen dress, a beaded bracelet from Mazatlan, and leather sandals for Anne and some weathered Carhartts, a short-sleeve button-down, and the signature green hat for Mike.

Microsoft Stage MakeupWe tried to get a good night sleep but all the nerves and excitement woke me up at 4am, so I decided to go to the gym. I walk out of our hotel room on the 17th floor of the Universal Sheraton and I nearly jumped out of my skin…and so did Bernie Sanders’ aides. It was election day in California and The Bern was staying two doors down from us! But I digress…I did some yoga, had some breakfast, then we got picked up at 6am for hair, makeup, and nails. How glamorous!

Stage4 Universal StudiosPrimped and preened, the Assistant Producer escorted us to Stage 4. In a space the size of an airplane hangar, there were over 100 people…setting up lights, sound, cameras, and props for the “HoneyTrek Inspired” set. We rounded the corner, and everyone paused to stare at us. Gulp.

HoneyTreks ViewIt was pretty intimidating having all these people and massive cameras around, but Jake, with his laid-back vibe and disarming English accent, somehow made us feel at ease. He sat at the edge of the stage and just asked us questions about HoneyTrek and how we use our tech. They didn’t give us a script…in fact, they barely gave us any info about what we’d be doing to keep our responses extra natural. We just riffed on travel and walked them through how we edit photos, compile videos, do social media, and post blogs. Not gonna lie, it was still pretty intense but so cool that they trusted us to shoot from the hip.

Craft Services Universal StudiosWe made it to lunchtime, phew! We don’t know how people who work on these high-profile sets don’t get fat. Lunch was a smorgasbord, the food truck was always open, and the crafts service team delivered gourmet snacks every couple hours…and we loved every minute of it.

Microsoft Dell BellsOnce we completed the shot list of nitty gritty stuff, they had us share the stories behind some of our favorite travel treasures. With Maasai spears, Japanese Kabuki masks, Bolivian miners lamps, and Tibetan Cow Bells, we had a little fun with props…if only I knew they’d use the footage of my bell booty shake on TV!

Mike Howard Microsoft StillsAs the film crew deconstructed their gear, a 12-person photo team arrived for the still shots. In addition to what’s on Microsoft’s website right now, we might be in some print ads around the world. (They had me put on a sweater so it could run in the Middle East.)

Our Windows 10 TV Commercial

After we shot the commercial, McCann told us there was no guarantee it would air on TV. They asked us a few follow-up questions over the next two months but still gave no indication if and when it would run. Then last week, we get an email saying: “It’s airing on Monday, don’t tell a soul!” We were bursting at the seams and in a state of total amazement that 10 hours of intense filming could be culled into 30 beautiful seconds.

With so much footage and so many platforms to share it on, the team actually made three versions of the spot. Here are the two 15 second clips you may see around social media or Hulu.

We are so grateful for this opportunity to work with such a talented team and respected brand. We hope we did everybody proud!

56 thoughts on “HoneyTrek is on National TV! Go Behind the Scenes of Our Microsoft Commercial

  • August 4, 2016 at 9:39 am

    I would never have guessed that you were feeling nervous, you guys were so relaxed and at ease on camera. You’re naturals! Congratulations to you both, what an amazing opportunity for you and for HoneyTrek!

  • August 4, 2016 at 11:02 am

    Phew, I’m glad we looked calm and collected! Thanks for the support, Nancy!

  • August 4, 2016 at 11:16 am

    Totally awesome! I’m startled every time I see the ad on tv!! Mega proud!

  • August 4, 2016 at 11:24 am

    It’s all been really really exciting. Thanks, Magdalena!

  • August 4, 2016 at 11:27 am

    Sorry to startle you 😉 We’ll have to watch some TV together and see if it comes on….that would be super surreal. We still haven’t seen it live yet! Thanks for a lifetime of love and support!

  • August 4, 2016 at 11:28 am

    So cool! You guys did great!

  • August 4, 2016 at 11:48 am

    wow you guys looked like naturals for this!!! good job…

  • August 4, 2016 at 11:59 am

    This is way too cool. So happy for you guys! Know it’s about Windows 10 (which we use) but I think the old saying from the late 60s early 70s is fitting: “Far Out!” It’s truly an amazing Trek you’re both on and wonderful that you’re sharing it. Best always, Bill & Jean (from CT)

    • August 8, 2016 at 2:27 am

      Bill, we’ll take your 70s compliment and raise you a Rock On! Like you are Windows 10 users too 🙂 Thanks for reaching out!

  • August 4, 2016 at 12:11 pm

    So my son is an actor and he’s done a lot, while I’m always proud, the excitement dies down for me after seeing him on TV many times. But when I saw you guys on TV I jumped and was so excited I shook my husband and I told him I read your blog! Haha! You would think I just saw my son’s very first commercial! Lol! Congrats! You did great!

  • August 4, 2016 at 12:20 pm

    Soooo cool this was all started in my house in Maz! You told me a little and asked me to keep it a secret but I had no idea! You two are amazing.

    • August 8, 2016 at 2:32 am

      Meeting in the the tropical fabulous Maz could have only helped our chances! Thanks, Susan!

  • August 4, 2016 at 12:36 pm

    THIS IS SOOOOO AWESOME!! I’m SO proud of you two. Enjoy the residuals!

  • August 4, 2016 at 1:58 pm

    Absolutely fabulous! It couldn’t have come off cuter. So happy for you both. Will spread the word.
    Fond regards,

  • August 4, 2016 at 2:12 pm

    Peggy, thanks to you for always being so fabulous! Really appreciate you spreading the word…this is a big break for us!

  • August 4, 2016 at 3:26 pm

    How exciting! And you both did great. Soon I’ll be saying “I knew Anne way back when.” congrats to you and Mike. Hope these spots air everywhere. You’ve worked so hard that you deserve great success.

    • August 28, 2016 at 2:16 pm

      Carla, so wonderful to hear from you! Have you been following HoneyTrek all these years or did you just find us? It’s been too long! Thanks for the support and hope all is well!

  • August 4, 2016 at 7:00 pm

    CONGRATULATIONS!! Your commercials are awesome. I saw one air last night and while yelling almost fell off my chair. What a perfect match of product and user. You guys are the most adorable couple and the coverage with videos and stills of your world wide adventures are educational, fascinating and wonderfully entertaining. The travel information is so very helpful and with your new lap top there are no boundaries. With a little PV panel and the company as a sponsor you could be completely off the grid. I bet your parents are so very proud. Hope you are able to visit Hawaii again in the near future.

  • August 4, 2016 at 7:19 pm


  • August 4, 2016 at 11:11 pm

    I could just imagine how great your experience was! It’s not every day that you get to appear in national TV. Dell is truly a great product. I’m sure you had a wonderful time testing the new Dell XPS 13.

  • August 5, 2016 at 10:42 am

    What a super fun experience and accomplishment. I am sure the whole process was intense and you both look so calm. I haven’t had a Dell in years but may consider it for my next computer.

  • August 5, 2016 at 10:45 am

    Such an inspirational story! By doing what you love, this opportunity happened! You both don’t look nervous at all–total pros! Congrats!

  • August 5, 2016 at 11:18 am

    Wow, that is so cool! Great job on the commercial, you both look like naturals. Definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity — not very many people can say that they appeared in a national TV commercial! Dell is a great brand and you did a great job showcasing that.

  • August 5, 2016 at 9:57 pm

    I’m so envious right now! I’d love to travel the world with my hubby making our income in the process. What an inspiration you are for those of us who want to get away from our rotten jobs.

  • August 5, 2016 at 11:09 pm

    That is so incredible! Good for you guys!! So cool, honestly and I love the way the commercials turned out. Definitely something to be proud of.

  • August 5, 2016 at 11:19 pm

    What an amazing experience you had and the commercial came out great. I used to work as a studio page when I lived in California and I remember the amazing…we called it craft services. Sushi, cookies, soda, pie and other yummyness. I was skinny then…doesn’t make sense to me either. Haha. Congrats again and safe travels.

  • August 6, 2016 at 1:04 pm

    What an amazing opportunity! I would love to have my own commercial…but that’s likely never to happen lol!

  • August 6, 2016 at 6:55 pm

    Brilliant, how nice it is to see a Hometown Hollywood gal so to speak in a commercial….Mike,I know you’re from back east,however Annie and Katie were neighbors…..Congrats!

    • August 28, 2016 at 2:09 pm

      Sean, so great to hear from you! We Hometown Hollywood gals tend to steer clear of the stage but it was such an amazing opportunity, we couldn’t pass it up!

  • August 7, 2016 at 7:51 am

    Congrats, guys. We’d been wondering how all that came about! Love it.

    • August 28, 2016 at 2:23 pm

      Tamara, thanks for checking out the post! It was such an incredible experience, we had to share it!

  • August 9, 2016 at 11:30 am

    Congrats on the commercial. I came to this site because of the commercial. If you are ever in San Francisco and want to come stay with us, we are airbnb hosts!

  • August 11, 2016 at 9:43 am

    We were on vacation out east and was watching TV and low behold to my pleasant surprise there were you guys on
    TV….It was awesome….I started jumping up & down telling hubby that I saw you guys on TV!!!! Now I know why.
    Hoping to see your ad again!!!!

    • August 28, 2016 at 2:29 pm

      Thanks so much for jumping up and down for us, Tanja, you’re awesome!

  • August 20, 2016 at 12:35 am

    Hey guys! I met you in 2013 on Pi Nan’s mindful farm in Northern Thailand. I saw your commercial tonight and am so stoked to see you are continuing to live the dream! Congrats on your commercial and your continued success with your adventures!

    • August 28, 2016 at 2:04 pm

      Kristin, so great to hear from you!!! We loved the mindful farm! Funny enough we are taking care of a farm for a month in Portugal right now…good think Chinaworn taught us the ropes! All the best to you!

  • August 21, 2016 at 1:42 am

    Just saw the last half of your commercial on Bravo late night and I have to look up the full commercial online. Looking good! Not sure about Windows lol but awesome to see you are getting the recognition after so many years of following your dreams! 🙂

  • August 21, 2016 at 7:19 pm

    So excellent. I love Honeytrek and it is a very cool commercial. There is a shot in it of Red Dao women in Northern Vietnam. One if the women is wearing reading glasses. Did you by any chance give the glasses to her through 54 Traditions or Reading Glass Project??? I’m so glad she has them and am even happier to see that she is using them. All good things. And keep on with your awesome site. Jackie Hunsicker. ReadingGlassProject.org

    • August 28, 2016 at 2:02 pm

      Love that you recognized our Red Dao friends! I’m not exactly sure where she got her glasses but so excited to hear that you are working with communities in need of eye care–what a cool project!

  • August 23, 2016 at 4:28 pm

    RE: Mr Toad’s comments – Yes, the “kids” parents are VERY proud of their adventure AND their TV debut…that’s from Papa Bear but it should be noted that a compliment from Mr. Toad is no small thing – he being one of the true mavens of commercial TV Production in Aloha-Land.
    Patrick Collins

    • August 28, 2016 at 2:38 pm

      Well that is great to hear from both the Bear and the Toad 🙂

  • September 3, 2016 at 6:12 pm

    I see interesting content here. Your blog can go viral easily,
    you need some initial traffic only. You should read about bucksflooder , this might interest you.

  • September 4, 2016 at 11:21 pm

    So we are sitting here watching the Norte Dame/Texas game and your commercial comes on. Awesome.

  • September 15, 2016 at 12:36 am

    I love your dress in the MS commercial…So Cute!! Love the commercial both of you!!

  • September 23, 2016 at 2:16 am

    Did you have to join the Screen Actors Guild?

  • September 23, 2016 at 2:54 pm

    What a cool experience! I’ve seen your commercial a lot on TV lately and you both are naturals.

  • October 6, 2016 at 11:29 am

    Are you guys still travelling?!?! We met you wine tasting in Chile in April 2012 & I saw the ad in the middle of the night while walking up and down with our second child. You’re inspiring! x

  • October 14, 2016 at 5:31 am

    You possibly have a picture of my face covered in mud which is how I look best !!! ( Zapatera)
    Well done guys it was fantastic meeting you and having a very large rum seemed the perfect way to celebrate your deal. Saw the add last night and thought it was great !

    All the best

    Rafe x

  • December 11, 2016 at 6:12 am

    Terrific. I want newsletter

Comments are closed.