Microsoft ads are still shoulder-tapping. OK. OK. I'm listening already.

Microsoft ads are still shoulder-tapping. OK. OK. I'm listening already.

Summary: You know that Microsoft ad campaign we've been discussing here? Bill and Jerry?

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TOPICS: Microsoft
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You know that Microsoft ad campaign we've been discussing here? Bill and Jerry? Churros and toe-nail clippings? Yeah, the $300 million one. That's the one.

It appears that the reactions to the first two commercials are just what Microsoft expected - and possibly even hoped for. Chris Flores posted an entry titled, "What's up with those ads?" in the official Windows Vista Blog and he presents a good, well thought-out counterpoint that I think offers some valid points, including:

When you set out to create advertising, the thing that keeps you up at night is not "Will some people not get it or like it?" Rather its "Will anyone pay any attention and notice"? I think we can safely check that box. Oscar Wilde's quote on the subject may be overused, but it's good to keep in mind when thinking about marketing products that can get taken for granted in today's crowded media landscape: "The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about."

Very true. Point Microsoft. We are definitely talking. We're also watching and sharing. Also good things. But it's another point that he makes in the entry that I think is deserving of discussion. He writes:

 You might have seen that in some interviews last week we called these initial TV spots "icebreakers" designed to start a new kind of conversation. That's exactly what they are. Icebreakers. Not the whole campaign. Not even the main part of the campaign. Just the beginning of the campaign. Just as somebody might tell a joke to lighten up a room or get somebody's attention before changing gears, these first ads were designed to tap people on the shoulder and say "Excuse me. We're back and we'd love a few moments of your time".

Sure, you can have few moments of my time. You had my attention last week but, go ahead, I'm still listening. (foot-tap, foot-tap. Blackberry buzzing.) Yeah, yeah. Uh-huh. (foot-tap. watch-glance. foot-tap.) Hey, I'm sorry to interrupt but, is there a point to be made here anytime soon? I'm apologize if that's rude or something but, ya know, the game will be back on as soon as you're done here and my wife wants me to come and throw the trash and (buzz), well, there goes my Blackberry again, so... I'm sorry. You were saying? (Adrian Kingsley-Hughes backs my point on this one.)

Here's the thing: Microsoft wants to tell a story and that's fine - if you have the attention span for it. But these days - in-person or online - we're easily distracted by things like e-mail, cell phone and IMs. Plus, we already know Microsoft. No introduction necessary. It might have been OK to just say hello and start telling us how you're re-inventing yourselves and what you'll be offering us soon - and do it in a quick, entertaining and frequent way. Instead, we're getting one new long segment every week.

Here's why the Apple ads worked: They were simple. Microsoft guy looks silly, Mac guy talks about Mac stuff in a "real person" kind of way and, in less than a minute, I understand what was just said to me. And I saw not only the logo but also a product at the end. And then the game came back on.

I do love a good story. I'm a journalist, after all. But I also love a good ending. This to-be-continued approach has potential to irritate more than entertain. But I'll definitely keep watching. I just can't promise that I'll keep paying attention.

Previous coverage:

Gates & Seinfeld's next commercial: Better. With funny parts.

Mary-Jo Foley: Keep the faith: More Windows-specific consumer ads coming soon

Seinfeld & Gates: Was this ad supposed to be funny?

Topic: Microsoft

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24 comments
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  • I wonder how many of the authors

    here have an advertising degree?

    They should be focusing less on these commercials and more on their own writing skills as I have noticed that many do not get the same amount of talkbacks as others.

    I would be more then happy to point out what their mistakes are, where they need work and where they are doing OK in their articles.

    I have the feeling that I have more knowledge in regards to their blogging skills then they realize, and would kindly help them out.
    GuidingLight
  • I like it

    The last one starts to make sense now.
    Come on microsoft, release a microsoft PC.
    Make it sexy like a Mac.
    stevey_d
    • make it 64 bit as well

      32 bit Vista is too limited.
      stevey_d
      • I'm kind of hankering after a pair of those shoes though!

        nt
        stevey_d
  • Losing your audience

    ... assumes that they can leave. Not something Microsoft really has to worry about.
    Yagotta B. Kidding
    • Of course they can leave...

      ...they could go Mac, Linux, Fre...

      Ok, I see your point.
      Scrat
  • RE: Microsoft ads are still shoulder-tapping. OK. OK. I'm listening already.

    its the Arrogance thats so off putting..
    These two aren't making me laugh yet.... Just
    curiosity I guess....
    and what about the leather themed spots (giraffe and
    shoe) and the shoe Gates is always flexing?
    Didn't we see an episode where George's statue is
    stolen from Jerry's house?
    Cmmon tell us something someone ay anywhere can relate
    to..please!
    dcsos
  • I like it, says Mac user

    I'm a Mac user and I actually found the last ad to be pretty funny. I know people expect these new ads to talk directly about Vista and Microsoft, but aren't these ads more about branding and changing the perceived image of Microsoft as a stodgy, aloof, overweight character played by John Hodgman? (Thanks, Apple :) Even if they talk directly about Vista, there's no way anyone would take any serious talk about "Vista being better than OS X" with sincerity. Avoid talking about the garbage that is Vista, and focus on image only to fool the consumer. That's what advertising is about right? To me, these are the perfect anti-"I'm a Mac/PC" ads.
    ImmaMac
    • Not unlike the Apple ads

      I think you hit it on the head. Just as the iPod commercials never talked about the iPod, they just had music, colorfull images and what not.

      They weren't trying to show that the ipod had any more, or better features then the next guy (which they didn't: there were other MP3 players out there at a lower cost with better features) they were setting up the brand as "cool and hip".

      I think the author is paying [b]so[/b] much attention to the commercial that he really isn't seeing it at all.
      John Zern
  • RE: Microsoft ads are still shoulder-tapping. OK. OK. I'm listening already.

    Maybe one of these days I will understand why these commercials are so important and why they generate news articles. I get it, Microsoft is doing COMMERCIALS! groundbreaking.

    Is analyzing commercials just an IT industry thing, or can we go find car enthusiasts analyzing car commercials?

    It all just seems entirely pointless. When did you guys become advertising analysts? I just do not understand what business any of these tech writers have trying to criticize a marketing campaign.

    If these articles were all on say, marketing/advertising websites, I would understand. It just seems bizarre that every single commercial must be thoroughly analyzed by folks who really have no place in analyzing commercials.

    But yeah, keep writing these articles. Keep whining about how you don't like Microsoft's commercial since apparently you are qualified to judge them and their marketing campaign(also impressive how it can be judged after TWO commercials). Clearly all of these tech writers know exactly what it takes to make effective marketing campaigns.
    skipdog172
    • Qualifications

      So, what are your qualifications for judging tech blogs and
      tech pundits? Are you a blogging professional? A paid pundit
      critic?

      I'm just curious. I don't feel qualified to criticize your
      comment even though I am an avid comment reader and
      comment writer. It's sort of a hobby of mine, although I
      never went to school and studied commenting formally.
      Marcos El Malo
    • We're all qualified to judge popular culture...

      ...cause it's made to appeal to all of us.

      Believe me, we can find car enthusiasts analyzing car
      commercials. Or even IT guys analyzing car commercials.

      Tech writers don't need to know how to make effective
      marketing campaigns, to be able to say if an ad was funny,
      made them want to buy a product, held their attention, or
      changed a company's image.
      Lolgic
  • RE: Microsoft ads are still shoulder-tapping. OK. OK. I'm listening already

    The ads are fine. The problem is that everyone keeps
    expecting Mac-like ads. That is not what Microsoft is
    aiming for. And by the sounds of it, the current
    campaign seems to be working just as planned. People
    haven't stopped talking about it (especially on
    zdnet), the videos are being shared and linked to as
    well.
    Loverock Davidson
    • You could be right

      I thought the first ad was a miserable failure at the time, but
      now that we have a little context from the second ad, I'm re-
      evaluating. I think [i]everyone's[/i] expectations were a little
      high for the first one.

      So, ad #2 was a pleasant surprise. It was funny. It made
      Gates look human, even as he did the Robot. I look forward
      to more.
      Marcos El Malo
  • RE: Microsoft ads are still shoulder-tapping. OK. OK. I'm listening already.

    Frankly, I'm just ignoring the ads, since truth in advertising is a myth in America. I judge a product by how well it lives up to its promises and meets my needs. Period!
    qdunder
    • Same Here, Thats why I stay away from Apple. Nt

      .
      JustAnAboveAverageJoe
      • And that's why you know nothing about them...

        It's a computer not a religion.
        GoPower
        • Not the reason

          The fact that he ignores advertising has nothing to do with
          his ignorance. He's just ignorant.
          Marcos El Malo
  • Like the Infinity cars ads in the beginning

    The battle was between Lexus and Infinity, and Infinity had these ads with rocks and streams... Jay Leno joked that those ads sold a lot of rocks...
    Roque Mocan
  • RE: Microsoft ads are still shoulder-tapping. OK. OK. I'm listening already

    Fellow Koolaid-drinking Apple Zealot here. I liked this one,
    too. I don't think it really cleared up the first ad, unless
    that was supposed to be subtle "boy-meets-boy" homo-
    erotica. But this second ad was enjoyable. It's still not clear
    where MS is going with this, and the tie-in between the ad
    and the message ("connectivity") was pretty weak.

    At any rate, I'm no longer dismissing this whole ad
    campaign as a failure from the start. I'm interested in
    seeing where they go with this.
    Marcos El Malo