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Microsoft Businesses Operating Systems Software Windows

Microsoft Tries a New Ad Agency 372

Diomidis Spinellis writes "An article in this week's Economist outlines Microsoft's marketing response to Vista's travails and Apple's hip Get a Mac campaign. Describing the recent Mojave Experiment as 'Microsoft at its worst,' the article's writer wonders whether hiring a new hot ad agency, Crispin Porter + Bogusky, to put together a $300m campaign can make Microsoft look cool. Can money buy you love?"
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Microsoft Tries a New Ad Agency

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  • by smaerd ( 954708 ) on Friday August 08, 2008 @10:21AM (#24524667)
    • Yes.

      And a bit of sex too!

    • by Tragedy4u ( 690579 ) on Friday August 08, 2008 @10:37AM (#24524969)
      Depends on your definition of "love". If your interpretation involves a gold digging trophy wife, then "yes". If it's a hot 'n sweaty night with a someone you consider "love" then "yes". If you want meaningful, unconditional "love" buy a dog and that would also be a "yes".
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by sm62704 ( 957197 )

        If it's a hot 'n sweaty night with a someone you consider "love" then "yes".

        Another word for sex is, after all, "making love". My newest girlfriend is great! Young (half my age), georgeous, great in bed, and costs less than dinner with a non-professional!

  • Better investments (Score:2, Insightful)

    by tritonman ( 998572 )
    Maybe they should consider investing that money in better testers and project managers for the next release of windows instead.
    • by Ethanol-fueled ( 1125189 ) * on Friday August 08, 2008 @10:30AM (#24524839) Homepage Journal
      They should concentrate on their core strengths and their R&D instead of greedily and half-assedly going after everybody else's pie. Their second-rate internet search and their shit-colored zune are good indicators of their being out of touch with reality.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      the recent Mojave Experiment as 'Microsoft at its worst,' the article's writer wonders

      IMO, the Mojave Experiment was an amazing success. It cut right through the constant stream of baseless, bitter anti-MS FUD, and revealed it as the B.S. it really is.

      They should be doing MORE commercials like that, not less. But obviously the article's writer... and a majority of the posters here... have an axe that must be ground at all costs, truth be damned. A successful version of Windows is their biggest threat, so

      • by SiChemist ( 575005 ) * on Friday August 08, 2008 @12:10PM (#24526823) Homepage

        The Mojave experiment proved that salesmen are good at selling things. The participants didn't explore the OS, they were given a guided tour.
        If Microsoft were honest about wanting to "prove" how great Vista is to Vista critics, it should have just let them explore "Mojave" on their own and discover the "wow". Instead, they chose to use a cheap marketing gimmick. Why would anyone think that "experiment" was anything other than marketing theatre?

  • Yes (Score:3, Funny)

    by spooje ( 582773 ) <`moc.liamtoh' `ta' `ejoops'> on Friday August 08, 2008 @10:22AM (#24524681) Homepage
    Yes. Especially in many Asian countries
  • It seems to me (Score:5, Insightful)

    by joeflies ( 529536 ) on Friday August 08, 2008 @10:22AM (#24524683)

    It seems to me that Crispin Porter + Bogusky is using their new Microsoft account to make a lot of publicity for themselves, given that Fast Company [fastcompany.com] just did a cover article on their acquisition of the Microsoft account.

    • Re:It seems to me (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Bearpaw ( 13080 ) on Friday August 08, 2008 @10:55AM (#24525281)

      Aha! See how good Crispin Porter + Bogusky is? They've just managed to get their name recognition to soar dramatically in a short period of time!

    • Re:It seems to me (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Taxman415a ( 863020 ) on Friday August 08, 2008 @11:30AM (#24526049) Homepage Journal
      Indeed. But what's also funny is that they are a Mac shop (at least 60/40 from another site I saw). I suppose their intent is to try to use that knowledge to try to know how to win people over. In the Fastcompany article [fastcompany.com] about them they discuss it a bit.

      That may explain why Keller and Reilly are today using their team as an early focus group for learning how to persuade Mac lovers to embrace Windows. "You've got a lot of passionate Mac people in here, and they've got to get their head around this thing -- why Windows is genius," says Keller. He and Reilly have outfitted their shared office (inherited from Bogusky) with an Xbox 360, which they've been using as a wireless hub. But their joint desk also holds two ultrathin MacBook Airs. When I ask if they're making their team get rid of their iPods and PowerBooks, Reilly responds, "It's not a matter of forcing people. It's getting them to want to use it. If you can't, you're not going to do great advertising."

      So they may be able to give them up internally to keep the account/their jobs, but I'd be surprised if they are very successful at this campaign. Then again, since Vista isn't as bad as it was at it's launch and the real problems with it such as DRM/protected path most people don't understand or care about, maybe they have a chance to at least stem the tide.
  • Bogusky? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Bazman ( 4849 ) on Friday August 08, 2008 @10:22AM (#24524697) Journal

    Really? Bogusky? Bogus-ky? Next we'll be told that Microsoft's lawyers are going to be Grabbit and Runne.

  • Anyone who can make this [psyop.tv] look cool should be able to sell Vista.

  • Never hire an ad agency that has the word 'bogus' in the name.
    • Actually, that sounds like the *perfect* name for an ad man. Even better than Boole Shitte or his brother Jack.
    • Yes they have "bogus" in their name, but they also have "crisp" and "porter" which can describe pizza and beer. So I would see it as a net gain.

      • by KGIII ( 973947 )

        Bogus crisp beer? So we'll be eating frozen pizza and drinking American pisswater beer, probably with the word "lite" on the label somewhere? Meh.. Doesn't sound all that bad though a tad bit mundane.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 08, 2008 @10:24AM (#24524733)

    When looking at those interviews, I was waiting for a narrator to say to me "We've secretly replaced this man's blood with Folger's Crystals!" man: "AIIEEAAAAHAHHH!!"

  • Love (Score:5, Funny)

    by proverbialcow ( 177020 ) on Friday August 08, 2008 @10:25AM (#24524745) Journal

    Can money buy you love?

    Probably, but I'm still going to wait for Love SP2.

  • $300M (Score:5, Insightful)

    by StreetStealth ( 980200 ) on Friday August 08, 2008 @10:25AM (#24524753) Journal

    I know this is nothing compared to the vast costs for developing Vista, but it makes one wonder... If Microsoft can't build a better product by throwing vast sums of money at it, is there any hope they can build a better image the same way?

    • Well yeah because they're hiring someone else to do it.

      • Re:$300M (Score:5, Interesting)

        by postbigbang ( 761081 ) on Friday August 08, 2008 @11:08AM (#24525535)

        Well yeah because they're hiring someone else to do it.

        Waggener Edstrom, their long-time PR company, was run by Pam Edstrom. She's married to Ballmer. See any connection in the failures here? Some of their staff are wonderful, while others are empty chairs. Hiring someone else to do the work might also mean that they'd have to listen to someone outside of their cabal.
        Perish the thought.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by BForrester ( 946915 )

      You'd be surprised how many people are convinced that Macs are amazing and Vista is shite without any firsthand experience of either; their opinions based solely on Apple's (very successful) TV commercial campaign.

      • Re:$300M (Score:5, Insightful)

        by samkass ( 174571 ) on Friday August 08, 2008 @10:45AM (#24525093) Homepage Journal

        The difference, though, is that people who have frequently used both often tend to develop that exact same opinion. So the marketing really isn't trying to spin much, which makes it even more sticky.

        • Re:$300M (Score:4, Insightful)

          by tambo ( 310170 ) on Friday August 08, 2008 @11:23AM (#24525873)
          The difference, though, is that people who have frequently used both often tend to develop that exact same opinion.


          The Mojave ad features a bunch of (what look to be) regular joes getting hoodwinked into using Vista. The obvious problem is that no one cares what Joe Sixpack thinks of Vista... that's not where most people get their information. Most get it from well-informed users using the big voices of weblogs, magazines, and newspapers. And those voices come down almost unanimously against Vista, with mountains of backing evidence.

          - David Stein

    • I can say that if Microsoft threw me a vast sum of money. I will promise to think of them better. So yes, you can.

  • New packaging, same product, poorly written software. Look if they took vista, and put out a version that you could strip the DRM, indexing, firewall, and was backwards compatible all the way to DOS then I would buy it at a fair price. Right now they want me to pay for services I don't like at a price thats too high. You can dress it up all you want, I still wont buy.
  • by Lord_Frederick ( 642312 ) on Friday August 08, 2008 @10:28AM (#24524795)

    A clever and solid marketing campaign will trump a quality product if enough money is thrown at the problem. It's unfortunate and sad but that's the way the cookie crumbles.

    • True enough. If anyone ever remembers the old IBM PC ads with the Charlie Chaplin-look alike vs. the later PS/2 It! ads...
    • by Anung_Un_Rama ( 929302 ) on Friday August 08, 2008 @10:43AM (#24525069)
      Not necessarily. The reason why Apple has been successful is because behind the clever marketing lies a solid product. Marketing can generate interest in a product and give it a competitive advantage over similar products, but at the end of the day the product must be able to stand on its own. Right now, Microsoft's Vista simply cannot. "It's like putting pearls on swine: you can dress up a pig, but it's still a pig." - Henry Rollins
  • Love? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Puffy Director Pants ( 1242492 ) on Friday August 08, 2008 @10:30AM (#24524831)
    Maybe, but dealing with the infections is a pain in the ass. They use a BIG needle!
  • by Quiet_Desperation ( 858215 ) on Friday August 08, 2008 @10:32AM (#24524861)

    MAC: Hi, I'm a Mac.

    BILL: Hi, I'm Bill gates. I'm a billionaire and one of the richest men in the world. I have power beyond anything you can imagine.

    MAC: Um...

    (Gates pulls out a pistol and shoots Mac in the head. Mac falls to the ground in a vast pool of blood and gore)

    BILL: I can do that to your family and never worry about any sort of prosecution ever penetrating my vast army of lawyers. I can topple our government with a set of well placed bribes, or push the global economy into a depression. Buy Vista or I'll make all your lives a fucking nightmare from which you'll never awaken. It's the lesser of two evils, believe me. I wouldn't lie to you because I don't have to.

    MAC: *gurgle*

    (Bill puts three more rounds into Mac)

    BILL: That was your wife and two kids, bitches. capisca?

    • Someone please actually make this into a YouTube commercial. It may be one of the most hilarious things ever if done.

    • by nicklott ( 533496 ) on Friday August 08, 2008 @11:16AM (#24525727)

      The trouble is that this is the wrong way round...

      Bill Gates always comes across, to me anyway, as a fairly likeable, if insanely rich, geek. Whereas Steve Jobs comes across as a psychopathic megalomaniac who would sell his children to a Gap sweatshop if he thought it would help sell more iPhones.

      I've always imagined Bill's house as a nice secluded ranch somewhere, where he spends most of his time silently sitting with his face bathed only the glow from the 3 monitors in front of him. Steve Jobs on the other hand would have a lair rather than a house. A place where he can constantly rage against the world, formulating ever more devious plans for world domination whilst feeding those employees who disappoint to his pet pirhanas. Think Hank Scorpio, but less polite.

  • by Optic7 ( 688717 ) on Friday August 08, 2008 @10:33AM (#24524883)
    on all the stories today?
  • signed? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Frizzle Fry ( 149026 ) on Friday August 08, 2008 @10:33AM (#24524885) Homepage

    What does the "signed" tag mean and why is it on so many articles?

  • by AlgorithMan ( 937244 ) on Friday August 08, 2008 @10:40AM (#24525007) Homepage
    here's microsofts newest try:
    http://www.algorithman.de/storage/new_vista_ad.jpg [algorithman.de]
  • by Hub_City ( 106665 ) on Friday August 08, 2008 @10:47AM (#24525137) Homepage

    ...but it was these guys that made the "Un-pimp My Ride" commercials for Volkswagen... ...and because you wanna watch 'em, here's the first [youtube.com], second [youtube.com] and third [youtube.com] of those...

    • I was REALLY surprised that those didn't get Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton or someone of their ilk riled up. Someone could have easily skewed those un-pimp commercials with racist undertones or something...
  • by abigsmurf ( 919188 ) on Friday August 08, 2008 @10:49AM (#24525161)
    Why the assumption that the Mojave experiment campaign was a failure? To me it seemed pretty effective.

    Not only did it get the headlines in most major news sources but it opened up a lot of discussion about Vista. There's a whole load of FUD that is either overblown (games performance was mostly down to poor drivers, the performance difference is very minor compared to XP) or a bunch of rubbish (zomg! MS will delete my MP3's and DRM everything!). Just look at slashdot discussions relating to the ads, there were more posts defending the OS by people who regularly use it than slating it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MobyDisk ( 75490 )

      Why the assumption that the Mojave experiment campaign was a failure?

      I've never heard of it until now.

    • by One Louder ( 595430 ) on Friday August 08, 2008 @11:33AM (#24526095)
      The Mojave experiment is a failure because it basically embarrases the potential customer.

      Unlike the Pepsi Challenges, or even the Folger's Crystals ads, this was not comparing two products from different companies and trying to convince you to switch, but rather the exact same product from the same company, ie "perceived Vista" vs "real Vista".

      For instance, in the Pepsi Challenge, the message was that Pepsi tastes better than Coke, maybe you should drink Pepsi from now on. In the Folger's case, the message was that cheap convenient coffee is just as good as fancy restaurant coffee.

      The only message in the Mojave experiment was "you're ignorant about the features of our products - you need to pay better attention".

  • by jrothwell97 ( 968062 ) <jonathan&notroswell,com> on Friday August 08, 2008 @10:57AM (#24525303) Homepage Journal

    I'll reckon they'll go with a dirty-tricks FUD campaign. For example:

    • Buy Vista, not a Mac. We know where you live.
    • In bash, no-one can hear you scream.
    • We're going to fucking kill you if you use Google.

    These threats will attempt to be carried out by Steve Ballmer disguised in a ski mask and a shirt saying "I AM NOT THAT DANCE MONKEY BOY OFF YOUTUBE."

  • by sm62704 ( 957197 ) on Friday August 08, 2008 @10:58AM (#24525325) Journal

    It could work if this is the company that did commercials for Pontiac, Ford, Chevy, and Schlitz.

    "At Ford, quality is job one!" Poor quality, their work is cut our for them
    "Pontiac: we build excitement!" Bad brakes, poor handling
    "Chevy: Like a rock!" Damned thing won't start.
    "When you're out of Schlitz, you're out of beer." The stuff's so nasty that nobody will drink it if there's any other brand in the fridge.

    So following these fine examples of truthful ads, I suggest to Microsoft:

    "Vista: Bigger and badder than ever!"
    "Linux runs on supercompuers. Vista runs on your computer."
    "Macs are for rich little girls"
    "In your heart, you know Vista's right" (borrowing from Richard Nixon's sucessful right wing campaign ad
    "Vista: Because nobody ever got fired for buying Microsoft!"

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      "In your heart, you know Vista's right" (borrowing from Richard Nixon's sucessful right wing campaign ad

      Acutally, "in your heart, you know he's right" wasn't Nixon's. It was Goldwater's [wikipedia.org]. And it wasn't successful, possibly because it was easily parodied:

      "In your guts, you know he's nuts"
      "In your heart, you know he might" (might use nuclear weapons)
      "In your heart, you know he's too far right"

  • by zerofoo ( 262795 ) on Friday August 08, 2008 @10:59AM (#24525345)

    in the computer business.

    Computers seem to be bought for two reasons - work and play.

    When a computer is bought for work - technical necessity dictates what you buy. If your livelihood depends on that machine, you are going to buy only what works - no more, no less.

    When a computer is bought for play - word of mouth is the primary motivator. Your friend loves his/her new Mac and all the cool things it can do - you see it, you like it, you buy it.

    Neither of these situations are heavily influenced by marketing. You'd think the brains in Redmond would realize this.


  • Can money buy you love?

    Well duh. The answer to that question is contained in your previous sentence, where you used the phrase "Apple's hip Get a Mac campaign".

    By definition an ad campaign cannot be hip. Ad campaigns worthy of the name are paid for by companies who are trying to make more money. Making money is not hip. Ad campaigns that make you think they are "hip" are very, very expensive indeed. Not only do you have to pay for air/ad space like a normal campaign but you must also buy out the principles of the actors/celebri

  • by Average ( 648 ) on Friday August 08, 2008 @11:02AM (#24525395)

    The Economist did not mention the names of Microsoft's old and bad marketers? Chief among them, a company named Burson-Marsteller. CEO? Mark Penn. Strike a bell? He has spent most of the last year running Hillary Clinton's absolutely terrible campaign.

    Does anyone else see the similarities between the "Hillary. She's inevitable." campaign and the "Vista. It's inevitable." campaign?

  • As someone who owns an ad agency, looking over Crispin Porter + Bogusky's client work, I'm not that impressed, at least with their TV work. Better for Microsoft to have gone with someone like these folks:

    Secret Weapon Marketing [secretweapon.net]

    * * * * *

    Oops. I dropped my sig and it rolled under the refrigerator.

  • Given the Apple is still riding the image of cool they created in their 1984 Superbowl ad (the one where the woman dressed like a Hooter's girl throws a sledgehammer) I think that the proper ad campaign could help Microsoft.

  • Useless (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bytesex ( 112972 ) on Friday August 08, 2008 @11:06AM (#24525495) Homepage

    Microsoft doesn't need brand image among consumers. The great majority of MS' consumers have their home boxen because that's something they also have at work. And that's the crux; MS must advertise to the dry and dull middle management, who have to set up workplaces for their underlings, and do it as reliably and cheaply as possible. They wouldn't know 'hip' from their waistline, and no amount of 'hip' is going to change their buying-decisions; they've already made up their minds. And it's going to be Microsoft again, but this time a bit later than usual. You know, the crisis and stuff.

  • by Maury Markowitz ( 452832 ) on Friday August 08, 2008 @11:51AM (#24526427) Homepage

    I was reading an interview with Jobs and he started railing on why tech companies fail. His theory is that when you have a product that sells well, the salesmen think they're the ones made that happen. They were selling it, after all. Since these people take all the glory for the success [and although he didn't say it, are typically better at office politics than techs] they end up running the company. When that happens, they just stop listening to the engineers. And then when the product doesn't have any legs, they try to market their way out of the problem. After all, it's all about marketing, right? Cars, hamburgers, operating systems; they're all the same, proper marketing can sell anything, it's got nothing to do with the actual product.

    After being asked about MS's recent floundering, he basically stated "Exactly, look who's running it, the sales guy."

    The problem with Vista is Vista, not the Vista ad campaign. Does anyone here think sales would have increased if their posters were cooler? If you run ads saying "it's really not so bad", then it pretty much _is_ that bad.

    And please, don't compare this with BK. BK's problem wasn't their product, it was visibility. That's something you CAN fix with an ad campaign. Everyone already knows about MS and Vista, so I really don't see how increasing visibility isn't going to help.

    Good luck to the new guys! Especially with the Zune.


  • Fixing Vista ... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by PPH ( 736903 ) on Friday August 08, 2008 @12:00PM (#24526603)

    ...sales by changing ad agencies is like trying to cure diarrhea by repairing your bathroom plumbing.

    Troll mod in 3...2...1...

Make it myself? But I'm a physical organic chemist!