[pullquote]Making fun of Microsoft Ads is like hunting dairy cows with a high-powered rifle and scope[/pullquote]
Microsoft and Apple have been competing against one another in computing for some thirty odd years. Both companies have evolved over the years but, in many ways, their personalities remain the same. Nowhere is this better reflected than in their advertising. Apple is the cool kid, as portrayed in Apple’s famous Mac vs PC Ads. Microsoft is the successful Geek who has everything — except Apple’s status as the cool kid…and Apple’s ability to create a successful Ad campaign.
Five Types Of Microsoft Ads
Advertising is a dark ocean without shores or lighthouse, strewn with many a wreck.
Microsoft seems to have five types of Ads: Bizarre, Misguided, Envious, Defensive and Mean.
[pullquote]Time spent in Microsoft’s advertising division seems to create a permanent deformity like the Chinese habit of foot-binding.[/pullquote]
I really don’t need to prove that Microsoft’s Ads are bizarre. They speak for themselves:
While Apple’s Ads tend to focus on fun stuff, like music and movies, Microsoft’s Ads focus on spreadsheets and Powerpoint presentations. Microsoft thinks that the fact that their computers do work is an advantage. But I think they’re wrong on two counts.
First, the message Microsoft wants to send is that their computers DO work. But the message they actually seem to be conveying is that their computers ARE work.
Second, everyone knows that Apple’s computers can be used for fun. Only Microsoft thinks that means that they can’t be used for work too.
[pullquote]One can live in the shadow of an idea without grasping it. ~ Elizabeth Bowen[/pullquote]
When the Surface first came out, Microsoft tried to sell it with Apple-like dancers and clickable covers. But instead of looking “cool”, their ads just came across as pointless.
You can’t teach cool and the harder Microsoft tries to be like Apple, the clearer it is that they’re nothing at all like Apple.
[pullquote]Bitterness is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die. ~ Steve Ostten[/pullquote]
Does the above Ad ring true to you — or to anyone outside of Redmond? Apple and Android tablets have been a sales success. Windows 8 tablets have been a sales disaster. Yet we’re supposed to believe that the guy in the Ad couldn’t find a single reason not to buy a non-Microsoft device? Really?
It’s like Microsoft is begging us to believe them; to take them at their word. The louder they shout, the more we tune them out.
[pullquote]The only problem with Microsoft is that they have no taste. ~ Steve Jobs[/pullquote]
Microsoft is like the tone deaf man who insists on singing at the top of his lungs at all the wrong times and in all the wrong venues. Their ads are not just odd, they make you cringe.
[pullquote]Good bad taste is always fueled by rage and anger with humor thrown in. Bad bad taste is fueled by stupidity and ignorance, and it comes out as anger. ~ John Waters[/pullquote]
Microsoft’s Scroogled campaign is just plain mean. It was bad enough when they were just running ads but then someone at Microsoft thought it was a good idea to open a Scroogled Store – where Microsoft would sell you shirts and mugs that mock Google.
Scroogled just dumps on Google with nothing positive. ~ Steve Wildstrom (@swildstrom)
Apple’s Ads Get It
Nike sells a commodity, they sell shoes. And yet when you think of Nike you feel something different than a shoe company. In their ads, as you know, they don’t ever talk about the product, they don’t ever talk about their air soles, how they’re better than Reebok’s air soles. What’s Nike do in their advertising? They honor great athletes and they honor great athletics. That’s who they are. That is what they are about. ~ Steve Jobs, during a town hall meeting with employees before unveiling the “Think Different” campaign in 1997.
[pullquote]This 30yr anniversary commercial is so right… ~ Jean-Louis Gassée (@gassee)[/pullquote]
Microsoft’s Super Bowl Ad
The follow Ad was shown by Microsoft during the Super Bowl.
[pullquote]A welcome change of pace from Scroogled, to say the least. ~ Ben Thompson (@monkbent)[/pullquote]
The Microsoft Ad finished at the top of the Kellogg Super Bowl Advertising Review. It celebrated the power of technology. It was emotional. It was personal. It was everything that advertising should be.
[pullquote]A man must be big enough to admit his mistakes, smart enough to profit from them, and strong enough to correct them. ~ John C. Maxwell[/pullquote]
Now, one commercial does not a pattern make, but perhaps this is a sign that Microsoft is finally getting it. As counter-intuitive as may seem, technology is meant to be loved, not to be understood.