Last week was a bit of colossal Microsoft mess wasn't it? We barely had to to pick our jaws up from the floor after seeing the Seinfeld & Gates "simple life" ads before they were yanked and replaced with the biggest "meh" testimonial ad you've ever seen.
While it looked hopeful for a moment - perhaps as Backman suggested the "Hodgman takeoff is the best idea they've had in a long time". But then Microsoft used the Hodgman PC guy from the Mac ads to make a point in the wrong way, big mistake.
There are a few rules of advertising - most which we break every day - but one you shouldn't mess with: When you are #1 in a segment you never ever mention the competition: You are not Avis, Microsoft - you are the biggest software company on the planet. Don't let some Apple-ad envy get to you. Look at other Microsoft campaigns at home to see how you do actually do some things right, even I want an X-box now (I even said so in the Metro paper) and those Zune's are looking mighty tempting too.
Lets face it, Microsoft can not make an all white clean crisp campaign like the "Mac vs PC" one for one simple reason - Microsoft is a software company. Apple is a soft+hardware company. They control the entire box. Of course you'll rarely have bugs appearing when a control freak makes sure their software runs on hardware they have chosen. Any operating system from Microsoft has to be designed for countless possibilities, and try to work on older hardware and any quirks appearing will be blamed on the software itself and not on the shit piece of hardware you bought or the fact that you need to figure out which drivers you need to make your peripherals play nice with it. Comparing Apple to Microsoft is like comparing a restaurant to a supermarket. You could in fact end up with the same dinner from both places if you had the skill set - but they are not selling the same thing. Pretending that they do has been the consistent mistake in Microsoft's advertising for years.
Then PC world reported that the 'I'm a PC' Ads were made on macs - someone get them a Pulitzer! Of course they frickin' were - they were made at an ad agency weren't they? I dare you to find a more mac-friendly environment. Macs reign supreme in the design and advertising space of the business world because way back in March 1985, the Apple LaserWriter was the first printer to ship with Adobe PostScript - so macs were the machines that ran the DTP revolution. We're a loyal bunch and as long as the Macs keep winning D&AD design awards, we will be decorating our offices with the pretty machines. But then we go home at night and play with our X-box.
Microsoft - and Crispin - could do a lot better if they just admitted to themselves that they are a software company and not a Mac-clone. They never will be a mac-clone, and they never were. Apple began as a hardware company with Wozniak's ingenious space saving design for the Apple I and II, while Microsoft had QDOS - and got to be the biggest software company in the world because they let any machine run it. Hardware companies from IBM to Compaq to Dell to the ISS space station run Microsoft (Windows 3.1. in fact, poor sods). Embrace that - the supermarket Microsoft runs sells everything from Key Lime pie to envelopes and stamps. It's not a fancy restaurant where there are limited options on the menu. Hey Crispin, you might need a nerd on your team - call me.
Microsoft - Shoe Circus / Shoes
Fri, 09/05/2008 - 13:30.
Microsoft Windows Vista - New Family - full version (2008) 4:30 (USA)
Sat, 09/13/2008 - 01:22.
Microsoft Kills Seinfeld - a.k.a $10M down the drain. Thu, 09/18/2008 - 07:30.
Microsoft Windows - Windows. Life Without Walls. - I'm a PC. (2008) :60 (USA)
Thu, 09/18/2008 - 22:13.