Microsoft – a consumer brand?

By now you probably have heard about the $300 million dollar add campaign Microsoft will be undertaking. 

As in all things on the Internet – there is a lot of buzz around what that money will be spent on.  Most of which are wrong.   For example, your typical Internet-savy user (who are the ones reading this blog or who know how to post a comment on YouTube) are not the audience for this campaign.  The campaign is also not about “Getting back at Apple” or Windows Vista.  What do you mean Dave, then what is it about?  This campaign is about getting back to basics – reintroducing Microsoft as a consumer brand. 

When I look back at my career as a Microsoft developer I can remember a time 10 years ago when people laughed at Microsoft in the enterprise.  I would talk about things like Windows NT (a Windows server? LOL you can’t be serious that is for playing video games) or SQL Server (why would we want a database run on office? LOL we use Oracle) and was constantly met with puzzled looks.  What a difference a decade makes, eh?  I could write an entire book on some of the exciting innovations that have occurred on top of our Enterprise product offerings and for the most part it wouldn’t change people's perceptions. That’s when it started to sync in.  I would say probably 18 months ago a lot of people at Microsoft (myself included) started to realize something.  We now live in an era where innovation in consumer products is what gets peoples attention.  It is what gets the homepage of Time magazine or the NY Times.  It is what affects stock price.  It is what affects the entire perception of your brand more than anything else you do.  

That is where this campaign comes in.  We are talking to the large consumer audience.  I know being an active user on Facebook, Forums, Blogs, Twitter, YouTube, FriendFeed, and lots of other Social Media sites I tend to think of myself as in the majority.  But I’m not.  In fact I am in a very small minority when it comes to the consumer market (and I’m not just talking US based either).  Think about that for a sec?  How many of the people you know who aren’t Internet savy know how to create a Facebook profile or make a comment on YouTube?  People who aren’t sitting in front of a computer all day long.  Believe it or not – this is the consumer audience.  These are the people who make up a large portion of that 90%+ market share windows has. 

More importantly they don’t have to be technical to have their perceptions changed.  Apple has proven this.  Want proof? Look no further than the Mojave Experiment.  We are at a point now where your average person’s perception of Vista is not based on use but of what they saw on TV or heard from someone who heard from someone who saw it on TV.  You get the idea.  Why do you think companies like Coke and Pepsi spend millions a year on having taste tests?

Being a geek all my life I’ve always believed technology would change the world.  I saw that years ago with the rise of the Internet, I see it today when I walk down the street and am surrounded by mobile devices.  I see it when I work with doctors and hospitals to better aid in patient care.  And, I see it online when I can connect with people in a different country and surprisingly find common ground.  Part of the reason I work at Microsoft is taking that wonder of technology and bringing it to everyday people.  Sure, there are some really exciting consumer innovations right now.  The next version of Windows is coming.  The next version of Windows Mobile is coming. This stuff is really just the tip of the Iceberg though and it all begins with a visit to the local mall’s Shoe Circus.  Churros, Clown Club cards, people and common ground.  Say hello to your old friend Microsoft.  Where do you want to go today?


Oh, and one word of warning.  You’ll probably want a Churro pretty bad afterwards.  I hit the mall last night to get one. 

<Homer Simpson> Mmmmm, Cinnamon. </Homer Simpson>

IWantAChurroNow Chocolate_with_churros

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