Make Marketing History

The views of a marketing deviant.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Don't Make The Straight Man Funny.


So here's the second Microsoft ad in very long form and it's funnier. It has more characters and a better script, though I'm not sure what it has to do with Microsoft per se. Yet they still screw it up at the end by trying to get Bill Gates to be wacky (and I'm sure that will feature in the thirty second version). When he's the straight man here, he's funny. But, as with all marketing, when you try to suggest that something or someone is different from how we know them to be, it just gets embarrassing.

12 Comments:

Blogger Rob @ Cynic said...

I blame Seinfeld - his involvement automatically influences the style of commercial and lets face it, the guy is out of date and out of touch. Hell I'd of used Jeff Goldblum, at least he is charming and understated PLUS he has his links to Apple which would be another little dig.

This campaign is based on the 'research' that says the MAC vs PC ads positioned Apple as elitist.

Well, apart from the fact the focus group is designed to elicit a response regardless of accuracy [as demonstrated in the Youtube video where people destroyed Apple's iconic 1984 ad] what's wrong with being elitist?

Fuck there's loads of brands that people view as aspirational and they're as elitist as all hell.

SHEER DRIVING PLEASURE? Yeah, very humble.

The thing is, whilst elitism has driven incredible success for many brands, Apple's elitism isn't based on a 'price point', it's based on values [ie: creativity, individualism, genuineness] so whilst Microsoft are trying to position themselves as the brand of the people, they've misunderstood that in the eyes of the masses, 'average' is bad.

7:33 PM, September 12, 2008  
Blogger Nicky Fingers said...

I have to say that I am most dissapointed in CP+B. I was/am a big fan of the Safety happens and Wopper Freakout ideas. As Rob@cynic points out pulling Seinfeld into the bit, removes any and all real emotion. You could script this with any fortune 500 out of touch CEO.

It's a real shame, because I do love how CP+B can digg deep and find real emotional connections. Somehow it feels sloppy, as though they ran with the first idea they had.

what they should have done is use Chris Rock and Steve Balmer, if ya gonna do the buddy stuff anyways. Make it black as the late Don Simpson used to say. contrast and all, 48 HOURS, RUSH HOUR.

Seeing Microsoft as the Republcan party for a second, why not go the negative route instead of this lovey dovey stuff?. It's not lke people are loyal to Microsoft out of free will. But there is a large majority out there that still chooses not to have a Mac. tagg teaming with Dell seems obvious now. These undecided people should be targeted not to love MC or Dell but to fear Apple. Dispite what we all wanna believe, fear does work even in the marketplace.

Just like GW turned out to be a bigger socialist than most democrats (franny fred) Bill turned out to do more for people than Steve. If you gonna use Bill, contrast his strenght with Steve's negatives. If you personify, make it personal all the way.

11:50 AM, September 13, 2008  
Blogger Charles Frith said...

You might have read my rebuttal to this but I'll keep it short because I think this works very well. Microsoft is irrationally close to being hated by a lot of people. This marketing helps to amelirate that feeling. Anyone who says they dislike Microsoft more after seeing this advertising is out of touch with middle (General Motors/McDonalds) America.

It's debatable how anyone could measure how effective this advertising is as the long term aim is to stop losing sales rather than creating more. However from a sample of one, I kind of like Microsoft a bit more as a result of Bill being funny with Jerry.

It's not rocket science but then neither is the communications problem. The product problem is a different matter.

And as for sheer driving pleasure Rob. I'm pretty sure 97% of non owners wouldn't have a clue who owns that. The 3% owners are driving the damm thing so they don't need ads to tell them of the experience.

Nobody cares about straplines. Only ad people do ;)

5:24 AM, September 14, 2008  
Blogger Charles Frith said...

I do however agree with the rest of your comment Rob but I'm pretty sure there's going to be a lot more to this discussion over a longer period of time. I look forward to it.

5:28 AM, September 14, 2008  
Blogger john dodds said...

Welcome Mr. Fingers sir - you seem a man not to be trifled with and I think your idea about Ballmer is on the right tracks - if he weren't Ballmer. The monkey dance is not wanted here and while he is far less well known to the public, I think there's too much existing material of his anger etc that would counter any charge of softness and man of the people.

Bill Gates is better on that score but my problem is, as I said a couple of days ago, that he is identified with old Microsoft and if you make hime warm and cuddly, you're creating Bill 2.0 and he has no association with Microsoft. Anyway, they can throw $300 million at this but as soon as users have issues with their machines, it all goes out the window.

Seinfeld may be felt to be dated in the opinion of some of the hipsters like Chuckles Campbell but in the States he's still everywhere in syndication and the show was a cultural phenomenon. For me it's not the comedy that's the issue, it's the low-brow cringeworthy wackiness they throw in for who knows what reason given that we're dealing with a hi-tech product (and for that reason I also have problems with the shoe store idea Charles - though fear that this sort of minute analysis is the reealm of pointless academicians rather than the perosn in the street).

And as Charles repeats, it's not a communication problem, it's a product problem - though not as big a one as people make out given their supreme market position.

2:46 AM, September 15, 2008  
Blogger Nicky Fingers said...

Like u said, product is not all that bad. that's not gonna change anytime soon. I makes still to much money this way for the powers that be mess with that aspect.image is not that good. but everybody has got an opinion on them.


Why not go in to the dark fabric of 'Soft? I once read this quote that people at Microsoft, felt like they were fighting a jihad. And the whole Mozilla thing was pure evil (genius).

Loaded terms, but it does show us what type of culture there is. Passionate (if framed right).

and the fact they make money in economic bad times shows entreprenurial tendencies.All American virtues, one could argue?

That would play in tune with the zeitgeist, where usa people do not have faith in US companies, but wanna believe that they can be great (still/again)...

broaden the sucker to cultural level..like apple pie

4:28 AM, September 15, 2008  
Blogger Charles Frith said...

Is Twitter working yet on your PC Doddsy? :)

4:34 AM, September 17, 2008  
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