Microsoft's new ad campaign finally gets it right

The company's latest marketing initiative, including full-page ads and realistic fake memos with crossed-out words, gives the company's vision and its software significant credit.

Microsoft just launched a new advertising campaign under the banner "It's Everybody's Business," and I have to admit that I really like the ads.

I'm not referring to the TV and online ads, which I think are a bit goofy, even though the content from CEOs at Coca-Cola and elsewhere (right) is quite good.

Rather, I'm referring to the full-page ads and fake memos distributed in such publications as The Wall Street Journal. I discovered a Microsoft "memo" on the ground of my flight to New York yesterday. It looked so real at a quick glance that I turned to the man seated behind me to give it to him. Judge for yourself:

You'd have to see the memo to get the full effect, with words crossed out and insertions made (represented by my parentheses above), but it's quite visually and emotionally appealing. It's also a good representation of the kind of software Microsoft has tried to build.

Microsoft

I've noted in the past how Microsoft used to come sit in my front room to watch me work on homework during my university days, trying to watch how I used my computer. I did it to get free Xbox games, but Microsoft did it to better understand how real people use its (and others') software.

While Microsoft's execution against that data hasn't always been the best, I give it full credit for trying to fit software into my life, rather than forcing me to cram my life into its software.

There are serious problems with Microsoft's vision related to lock-in, in particular, but its new marketing campaign is a direct hit. At a cost of $150 million, according to The Wall Street Journal, Microsoft has managed to spend half what its "I'm a PC" campaign cost, while delivering more value, precisely the message it's trying to convey in the ads.

In the past, Microsoft has treated buyers like fools with inane dinosaurs or has looked childish playing me-too with its "I'm a PC" ads.

The new campaign is a grown-up demonstration of why Microsoft is the world's largest software company, warts and all.

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About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.

     

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