Microsoft’s Defensive Audible

On September 18th, Cnet.com posted an article in reference to the new Microsoft Ad Campaign.  No, not the Ad campaign staring Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Gates (who seems to be doing a Napoleon Dynamite impression.)  This is a brand new ad campaign, titled “I’m A PC.”  The obvious motive, or strategy being used by Microsoft is to convince the viewing audience that PC has been made into a stereotype, which is actually stated at the beginning of the commercial, by a man impersonating the cfamiliar character from the Mac commercials; however, I did not need an impersonator to make it clear that this commercial is Microsoft’s tardy rebuttal  to all of those cheeky Apple commercials featuring budding movie star Justin Long.

The idea of the commercial is to give the “PC” a voice, in his own advertisement, during which time he makes it abundantly clear to the audience that he has been made into a sterotype.  Microsoft supports the “I am not a sterotype” argument by driving the point home throughout the commercial using everyday normal people from a variety of professions who all proclaim that “they are a PC” or “prefer to use a PC” or “have a beard…..?” Microsoft also used the celebrity power of influence strategy in the ad, by including cameos with Pharrell and Eva Longoria.

I have a couple of issues with the Ad.

One, is that it is long overdue.  Why did it take Microsoft so long to come up with their retort to all of those Apple commercials that added insult to the injury of Vista?  Did they think their imaginary friend Mr. Reputation was going to stand up for them and beat up the mean bully?  Microsoft sat on their hands for a couple of years, and allowed Apple make joke after joke about Vista and Microsoft’s software.  Maybe they were too busy working on their apologetic email marketing campaign to all the Windows Vista users.

Bill Gates (billionaire, founder, father, and a guitar hero)

Bill Gates (billionaire, founder, father, and guitar hero)

The other issue I have with the advertisement is the over abundance of celebrity cameos.  Honestly, who really cares about the operating system preferences of Eva Longoria and her husband?  Not me.  Also, what was the strategy behind including Bill Gates in the commercial?  Whoa, I had no idea he preferred Microsoft Products!!  Thanks for the info!  Perhaps they were attempting to reaffirm our faith in the company, by showing us that the boss is back, and he is going to clean up the mess.

Aside from those two issues, the new “I’m a PC” ad seemed to effectively deliver the  message Microsoft intended, which if I am not mistaken was:

“Hey, I know a majority of the teenagers and young adults out there think Microsoft is totally lame compared to Apple, but check out this diverse collection of normal people and celebrities who view us in a positive light.  Not as lame as you thought we were! Right?  Did you see Eva Longoria?  How about Pharell, did you see him?  There cool.  Right?  Okay, parents I know you heard us, so please reinforce that message if you are in the room.”

Now back to the Cnet Article I referenced at the beginning of this post.  The article basically summed up the information I just revealed, in a less colorful fashion; however, the article was also based on the opinion of some big wig Ad Executive in New York, who believed that Microsoft was playing the victim card in this recent ad.  The article went on to reveal that the big wig Ad Executive also did not believe that the “victim card” was an effective strategy, mainly because Microsoft is not a victim.

The epic battle between Windows and walls continues...

Exactly at what part of the Ad was Microsoft pulling out the victim card?  It looked more to me like Microsoft has finally realized that they are now on the defensive side of the ball,  and their defense squad needs to string together some plays that lead to a turnover, so the offensive team can get back on the field to score some points before it’s too late.  In non-sports analogy terms, it appears as though Microsoft is attempting to create a rejuvenated public image, which makes them look less like an indestructible corporate giant who makes product decisions based on what would be best for the company, in terms of profit.  The ‘New Microsoft’ wants to show everyone that they realize the Windows Vista road has been bumpy lately, and they are sorry.  The New Microsoft also seems to be admitting that they have not been spending enough time focusing on what’s best for the customer.  New Microsoft is sorry gang, and they want to make it up to you with bug fixes, new software, and an optimistic future…..without walls (which I am guessing is a way of poking fun at the white wall behind the two actors in the Mac ads…..but also implies that there is no limit to the future of innovative product offerings from Microsoft.  Nice touch.)

The big wig ad executive from the Cnet article also stated that she was confused about what age group Microsoft was attempting to target with the previous high-budget commercials, featuring Jerry Seinfeld.

Why does Microsoft have to be targeting a certain age group Ms. Big Wig?  Is it not possible to target a variety of age groups with one advertisement?  I am in my 20’s, and the advertisement certainly caught my attention, as well as my father’s, who is in his 50’s.  We both agreed that it was a funny, yet effective way for Microsoft to reveal that they are making an enormous effort to place more value in the opinion of their customers. For example, the commercial with Gates & Seinfeld hanging out in unfamiliar territory with some random middle class family, implied that Microsoft wants to establish a better, more intimate relationship with their customers, no matter what their age or income.  Gates & Seinfeld were not in that house to just have a conversation with the kids.  They were there to hang out with the whole family, even grandma.

Aside from the target audience arguement, I have a feeling we are on the verge of witnessing one of the fiercest advertising campaign battles of the decade.  Thank goodness.  I have grown tired of all the Budweiser vs. Miller Lite and DirectTV vs. Comcast battles.

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