Microsoft has launched a new Windows ad campaign starring Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Gates, to much derision. It does not, as yet, directly answer the criticism of my last post, that Microsoft’s PR is undermining its flagship product, Windows Vista.
Seinfeld’s sense of humour is not something I have ever particularly enjoyed, though I did get a warm fuzzy feeling from these ads. More so from Gates’s performance than from Seinfeld’s.
Daniel points out that:
“Most critics of these ads point out, quite rightly, that the message doesn’t ask viewers to buy anything. If an ad doesn’t ask you to buy something, surely it’s a failure.”
Remind you of another ad campaign designed to change the image and brand of a poorly regarded company? It reminds me of nothing more than Apple’s Think Different campaign. At the time it was criticised for being grammatically incorrect, vague and completely unrelated to the benefits of Apple’s products. It was the complete anti-thesis of current iPhone ads.
Apple’s marketing since Think Different has been an evolution from establishing a new brand through to promoting specific features, via customer endorsements (Switch campaign) and product differentiation (Mac vs PC). At the time of Think Different, Apple’s image was terrible, even if its products were actually quite strong. At the time, Apple needed to change people’s perceptions and expectations of it as a company, before they would even be willing to consider its products.
Microsoft is in a very similar position. Kevin Hoffman’s first take on the ads at The .Net Addict’s Blog points out that Vista is actually a strong product. Microsoft’s other products are also beginning to show considerable signs of improvement. However, the company still receives a lot of criticism, some of it less justified than in the past.
Microsoft has understood that any sympathy towards it is the result of Bill Gates’s philanthropy. Any company whose chief executive gives that much money to charity can’t be all bad, can it?
Apple needed to re-establish its credibility. Microsoft needs to show that it cares about its customers and they seem to be thinking different to do just that. An excellent move on their part.
It is also an excellent demonstration of how Google, Apple, Sony, Mozilla and Oracle’s competition with Microsoft is hugely important for consumers. A Microsoft as a monopoly in all computing markets is terrible and worthy of scorn. A Microsoft that has to compete will be great for everyone.