Microsoft resorts to vomit to market IE 8

In a new series of online ads for its Internet Explorer 8 browser, created by the team behind the Mojave Experiment, Microsoft goes beyond the pale. In fact, a bucket is required.

Chris Matyszczyk
3 min read

Editor's note at 10:25 p.m. PDT: Since this blog was published, the video has been removed from the hosting pages. But this copy of the video remains on YouTube.

I know a girl who gets somewhat uptight when she's in the passenger seat of a car going any more than 70 mph. However, put her on some insane roller coaster, and she's just fine.

The driving dangers are real, you see. Whereas the roller-coaster ride just feels wonderfully stomach-turning.

And so it is with this charming new online ad for Internet Explorer 8 from Microsoft. In most of its advertising, Microsoft has rarely reached 70 mph. But someone, somewhere deep within Microsoft, finally had the craving for the roller coaster.

Here we have a couple at the breakfast table. The husband is examining his laptop. It is not a Mac.

This is a copy of the video. The official version disappeared from the Net sometime Wednesday.

His wife asks to borrow his laptop for a minute. To be fair, shortly before she does this, she shows all the symptoms of being a little stressed. Her lips are tight. Her eyebrows seem even tighter.

She looks at her husband's screen. She is surprised at what she sees and says: "What's this?" Then her body begins involuntary motions. Will an alien being pop from her stomach, leap onto the table, and begin to sing a Celine Dion number?

Will she turn toward her husband, enraged at what she has just seen and assail him with words and fists and spittle and quotes from Joan Crawford?

Not quite.

In fact, she turns away from the kitchen table, not wishing to soil his PC. And then she vomits.

Yes, she vomits. She pukes. She throws up. She upchucks. She phones Huey and Ralph down the big white telephone. (This last phrase is peculiarly English. You need to say the words "Huey" and "Ralph" with an echoing timbre.)

Her vomit is yellow, powerful, and a decent, if distant, relative of the turbo-charged green liquid emitted by Linda Blair in "The Exorcist." Although, truly, one wonders what there really could have been on that screen to make her do so. Most wives have surely seen it all.

Still, her husband, the sinful, disgusting, smug pervert, slips on the vomit as it hits the kitchen floor.

What could possibly happen after all this drama? Does Superman turn up? Actually, he does. In the shape of actor Dean Cain. Dean, who appears unaffected by the detritus at his feet, asks, "Do you suffer from OMGIGP?"

This acronym, for those of you still in control of your diaphragm, stands for "Oh my god, I'm gonna puke."

Superman then goes on to explain that IE 8 has InPrivate Browsing while the husband, still prostrate on the kitchen floor, is privately adorned with even more of his wife's mellow yellow.

As the wife wipes her chin, all I can think about is that Superman's turtleneck is yellow too--and that, even a year ago, no one would have ever expected Microsoft to make a spot like this.

This work is not, as some have surmised, the work of Crispin Porter + Bogusky, the agency responsible for both the "I'm a PC" and Gates-Seinfeld campaigns. It is the brainchild of Bradley and Montgomery, the folks that brought you the Mojave Experiment.

The vomit ad is one of a series, all featuring Cain. The series is taglined "Browse Better," and like the Mojave project, it has its own site, BrowsefortheBetter.com.

Interestingly, and perhaps, for some, ironically, the BrowsefortheBetter site says that for every download of IE 8, the company will donate 8 meals to Feeding America, an organization trying to stop hunger in the U.S.

Of course, some will say of this vomiting ad: "Out, damned spot." Harry McCracken of Technologizer has already dubbed it as "Worst. Tech. Commercial. Ever?"

I will say this. Microsoft has realized that it needs attention. It is finding many and varied ways of doing so. In this case, I suspect that someone has said in a long, long marketing meeting: "Hmm, maybe snot-nosed, filthy T-shirted, gross-out humored, socially inept children really do have an influence."