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What’s up with those ads?

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Old 09-12-2008
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What’s up with those ads?
As I did previously, I'm posting this on behalf of my colleague David Webster.
Since my last post here as a guest blogger a few weeks back was to give you some context on the Mojave Experiment, I figured I should do the same for the other little campaign we're running on TV right now. Even if you're not a TV watcher, you probably know the one I'm talking about. It involves Churros, Pleather, Big Top Points and the Conquistador. Oh yeah, there's a Windows logo in there at the end too.
I thought I got a lot of mail when the Mojave spots came out, but I was wrong. Even in an election year (or maybe because we're in an election year), people sure do seem to enjoy debating our marketing.
Between the enthusiastic notes from enthusiasts, the predictable notes from friends and family, and the even more predictable notes from haters and fanboys, two common questions emerged:
  1. Do you really think these ads will make people want to buy Windows Vista?
  2. Are you getting the reaction you expected/wanted?
Fortunately these are both really easy to answer. Since I've seen tons of speculation out there (some very literate and interesting, others not so much), I figured it would be a good idea to answer them both here.
You might have seen that in some interviews last week we called these initial TV spots "icebreakers" designed to start a new kind of conversation. That's exactly what they are. Icebreakers. Not the whole campaign. Not even the main part of the campaign. Just the beginning of the campaign. Just as somebody might tell a joke to lighten up a room or get somebody's attention before changing gears, these first ads were designed to tap people on the shoulder and say "Excuse me. We're back and we'd love a few moments of your time".
Will seeing Bill and Jerry enjoy each other's company make people run out and buy a new laptop? Or correct misperceptions some non-users might have about Windows Vista?
Certainly not. We'd be crazy to think they would. That's why we're continuing the Mojave Experiment ads. That's their job.
And they do their job simply by giving people who've never done so an excuse to check out Windows Vista for themselves.
But this campaign, when fully unveiled, will talk about Windows in all its forms. Not just the OS for PCs we happen to be shipping today. In fact, not just an OS. And not just on PCs. Simply put, this campaign isn't about Windows Vista. It's about Windows.
That might not be what some folks were/are expecting. And it might be hard to believe given what you've seen so far.
But remember, we have gone on record saying the broader campaign will "tell the Windows story" and we intend to judge its success on that basis.
In that light I think it's pretty safe to conclude we don't expect the little logo at the end of these spots to do all that work by itself.
Answering question #2 is even easier.
Yes.
When you set out to create advertising, the thing that keeps you up at night is not "Will some people not get it or like it?"
Rather its "Will anyone pay any attention and notice"? I think we can safely check that box. Oscar Wilde's quote on the subject may be overused, but it's good to keep in mind when thinking about marketing products that can get taken for granted in today's crowded media landscape: "The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about."
I'm not going to give any more details about how the campaign will evolve over the next couple of weeks, you'll have to stay tuned and see for yourself.
Or you can just listen to what folks are talking about on podcasts, blogs and around water coolers the next day ;-)
In that spirit, here are some of the best Seinfeld-inspired headlines we collected from various news outlets over the last few weeks. We sure made the headline writers' jobs more interesting (even when they got the Windows Vista focus wrong):
  • What's Up With the Ad About Nothing That Has Everyone Talking?
  • Seinfeld Peddles Vista From Milan to Minsk
  • These Churros are making me thirsty
  • You Vista Vista'd Over The Best Part!
  • Seinfeld goes to bat for Microsoft, yada yada yada
  • Is That The Conquistador? They Run Tight.
  • Microsoft talks Seinfeld into wearing the puffy OS
  • Microsoft: Still Master of the Operating System Domain
  • Vista & Seinfeld: Not That There's Anything Wrong with That
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