Sep. 18th, 2008

Of Lipstick and Pigs.


And the saga continues.
So Microsoft has moved past the "Hey, We’re Not Evil" stage, but instead of blowing us away with amazing new products, they’ve apparently chosen to drop $300 million on…whining about Apple.
In today’s New York Times, we read:

"Apple executives have been “using a lot of their money to
de-position our brand and tell people what we stand for,” said David
Webster, general manager for brand marketing at Microsoft in Redmond,

“They’ve made a caricature out of the PC,” he added, which was unacceptable because “you always want to own your own story.”

campaign illustrates “a strong desire” among Microsoft managers “to
take back that narrative,” Mr. Webster said, and “have a conversation
about the real PC.”

A giant advertiser responding to the
disparagement of a smaller rival can be fraught with peril. Consumers
may see it as a validation of the claims, or even bullying. On the
other hand, ignoring the taunts can damage images and sales.

the car-rental wars, the market leader, Hertz, long kept silent about a
cheeky Avis campaign that proclaimed: “We’re No. 2. We try harder.” But
after Avis revenue grew robustly, Hertz shot back: “For years, Avis has
been telling you Hertz is No. 1. Now we’re going to tell you why.”"

Didja catch that last part, Redmond? "Now we’re going to tell you why."

Not having seen the ads, we will withhold final judgment. But we will say this: You’d better blow us away, Microsoft, and not with clever advertising. Amaze us with the "why." With product benefits that make us think: "Man. Imagine what I could do if I had that." 

You guys do some things surprisingly well. The Zune is actually pretty cool. So is XBox. But it’s not the advertising, or even the product design that allows Apple to kick your ass. It’s the easily understandable, usable product benefits. Things that fire users’ sense of wonder.

Right now, our sense of wonder is saying: "Wonder why they’re giving Apple all this free publicity?"

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