The Commercials – let’s call a spade a spade

I’m just as perplexed as anyone else about the commercials. I’ve been following our advertising story closely for the last couple of months right up to our launch on 9/4. But this cartoon nails the way I (and most of my friends seem to) feel:

[courtesy: Penny Arcade!]

I don’t get it

Things have been pretty hush-hush on the inside – no one knew much about these commercials till they rolled out. I think it’d be easier for me to say what I did get about the commercials, which is pretty much nothing. I had to watch the commercials a few times just to get the subtleties of what they were saying. I was sitting on the edge of my seat waiting for the punch-line, and I didn’t see it. From the New York Times article “Echoing the Campaign of a Rival, Microsoft Aims to Redfine ‘I’m a PC’“ :

“It did what it needed to do,” said Rob Reilly, partner and co-executive creative director at Crispin Porter in Boulder, Colo., and Miami. “People who got it, got it.””

I didn’t get it.


When I saw the first commercial, I was hoping and praying that these commercials would be like episodes Lost_logo_and_castfrom the TV show Lost. That somehow magically all the pieces of the puzzle would start to come together over time. That said, Seinfeld “definitely and authoritatively” going off the commercials doesn’t make sense. That’d be like killing off Sayid in season 1. I also find it a little interesting that off all the blogs out there, Valleywag is the one that broke this story first. Not TechCrunch, not VentureBeat, Valleywag.

But that said, I completely agree with this comment that was left on the Windows Vista Blog:

“If you keep having to expain yourselves and defend the ad's intent (which you've already had to do with the media to no end), then doesn't that tell you right there the state of things? People just aren't getting it.”

Things I liked about the commercial

I watched the commercials with the same group of friends each time they debuted. We laughed at the simple things. The continuity in the theme helped, like when Gates was still flexing the Conquistador in the 2nd commercial, and when the delivery kid says “Wow, two of the most accomplished people in their respective fields”.

I’m a PC

I’d created this T-shirt a few months ago:

tshirt-front tshirt-back 
I made it because I like the PC guy in the commercials. I like him better because he is portrayed as a little bit of a goof. How often does the Mac guy even speak in the Apple commercials? Truth be told, the Apple ads are really about the PC guy - he is the star. But what I am hearing is that in the next wave of our commercials is going to be about the PC guy. That there’s more to him than what is being portrayed.

Is it working?

I think of Arrington as the most influential technology journalist on the planet. Period. So for Arrington to say this,

I can’t wait to see what comes next.”,

says something.

I think the commercials are working in that they are getting people wanting to watch the commercials. This will not be the death of Windows as some claim. Neither will it have any kind of short-term impact in sales. And that was not our goal to start with.

I’ve said this time and again, this company is full of ridiculously smart people. I quiver when I’m around some of these people. And they know what they are doing. But I think we can get more creative. I think we can get more specific. I do not think the commercials need to get heads-on and take on Apple’s commercials. Windows has been around for a long time and I think there’s a story or two I think we can tell a about everyday users.


PS: Anyone a fan of The Office?