In advertising, there's a long tradition of making products seem more elegant than they really are by playing classical music in the background. A bit of Vivaldi or Handel is all it usually takes to give a car or a tube of suntan lotion a touch of European sophistication. Now, Microsoft's image makers are following suit with a TV spot for Internet Explorer accompanied by the sweet sounds of the Confutatis Maledictis from Mozart's Requiem.
Judging by a recent spate of ads, Microsoft is on a mission of sorts to show that it isn't nearly as soulless as everyone thinks it is. But, with its latest IE spot, the Redmondians may be sending a different message. As the TV screen flashes Microsoft's "Where do you want to go today?" slogan, Wolfgang's lyrics sound off "confutatis maledictis, flammis acribus addictis"--a phrase my Latin-loving friends translate as "the damned and accused are convicted to flames of hell." Funny. I felt damned using the platform preview of Internet Explorer 4.0.
Some publishers wouldn't mind condemning a new Netscape marketing program to the fiery bowels of Hades. My media moles tell me that Netscape has been pitching publishers "premier" slots on its Netcaster Channel Finder to the tune of $200,000. For that price, Netscape will guarantee 200,000 subscribers, but the company wants to charge $2.50 for every additional subscriber. (A less prominent "marquee" slot on the Channel Finder costs $30,000 for 30,000 subscribers plus $2.50 per additional pair of eyeballs.)
No doubt, Netscape is betting that location, location, location will get content partners to cough up that kind of dough. But some publishers are protesting that the added exposure won't justify the cost of building a push channel for Netcaster. "Given that they want the offline content to be rich enough that the users don't have to go online, I'm not sure what's in it for us," one pub told me. What's in this job for me? I can do without the sex, drugs, and rock and roll, but I can't go a day without a good rumor. Email me one to me now before you go back to work.