No, this isn’t a personal ad. You know me better than that!
I already talked about holiday advertisements and how they send me into a total state of selective sensory rejection. Yeah, I just made that up. My point is that I find it necessary sometimes to block out those things that drive me nutso. You put enough of those things together and my body takes over…it’s the equivalent of sticking my fingers in my ears and singing “lalalala…I’m not listening”…only less annoying. For a good long time those things sink into my mind and tick me off and then at some point, possibly the point where my survival instinct kicks in (anyone ever heard of ropey saliva? It’s my favorite flight or fight indicator…what’s yours?), my mind says to my body “Dude…are you going to do something about this? She’s losing it. Can you at least turn down the volume”. It’s kind of like the flip side of what happens to me when I am working out; body to mind: “Dude…she’s not liking this. It hurts. You know she’s trying to think of a reason to step off the machine. Why don’t you just send her to her happy place?”. Hmm, the body has a mind of it’s own, yet the mind doesn’t have a body of it’s own. Hardly seems fair. By the way, this all makes sense in my happy place.
Anyway, the holiday advertisements will generally contain a few heart string pullers. Anyone remember that one with Corey Feldman when he was a little kid and saw that Santa was real? Did anyone stop reading that sentence when I said “Corey Feldman”? I loved that ad. Don’t be a Corey hater.
We’ve done some heart string pulling ourselves at Microsoft with the “Your potential. Our passion.” campaign. Check out the conection between the campaigns and some of the things Microsoft is doing here. This is yummy marketing goodness in my opinion. Did you know that campaign started as a recruitment campaign…cool, huh? Those advertisements really touched me; in part due to the fact that my passion around working for Microsoft has more to do with what technology can help people achieve than the technology itself. It made people *feel* something about Microsoft; it gave them a little peek behind the curtain so they could understand what we are about.
I get that different types of ads work for different situations. Some are a call to action, some have a scruffy-looking twenty something trying to convince you that Apple has significantly more of the desktop market than they do (oops…did I just say that?). Some advertisements are about brand, about telling people what your company stands for. And this is where I think the heartstrings stuff comes into place…making you “feel” something.
Sometimes, as someone who works for Microsoft and experiences first-hand what we stand for, I get a little frustrated that we seem to have such a difficult time articulating it publicly. Trust me, I am someone who is fine talking about opinions, but when it comes to feelings I get a little uncomfortable. I think that to some extent, Microsoft is the same. We are missing opportunities to tell people about the great things that people at our company do and how freakishly passionate we are about changing peoples’ lives. It may sound goofy to you, but when you see it in action, it’s pretty inspiring. Unfortunately, we aren’t confident in our ability to talk about how great our people are without perpetuating an image as “arrogant”. At least that is how I see it.
The problem is that people outside the company don’t have as much opportunity to see our passion (a much over-used term but it’s all I’ve got in regards to this discussion) in action. I think that is part of the reason I blog. I want people to know that the recruiting “black hole”, or the recruiter as paper-pusher or <insert negative recruiting stereotype here> isn’t what we are all about. Some of us do care incredibly about the candidate experience, we are smart and we do have lives outside of Microsoft, some of us have even been referred to as funny, but I think some of you might just need higher humor standards (hee!). And if we sometimes talk about going to the gym too much, please consider that we are trying to psych ourselves up (I’m just saying).
I guess the point that I am trying to make is that I feel that where some kind of emotion-based marketing is needed, I really wish that we as a company did better. When we talk about people being our biggest and best asset, as quippy as it sounds, it’s true and I think that the best thing that we could do is show the world the amazing people that we have here (which is why I used to bristle at the use of stock photography in our recruitment advertising). In a tiny, little nichey, grassroots way, I feel some responsibility for that (though I still contend that my blog is evangelism, not marketing…we don’t need to debate this topic again). I know that most of our advertising needs to be customer-centric, but I think there’s a need for customers to really understand what we are all about. Because if we don’t tell the story, the market will tell it for us and it may not necessarily be true (I’m not going to refer to those crunchy fruit ads again). Especially after those dinosaur ads. It took me a while to understand why people had such a strong reaction to those…I get it now. I think I was clouded by my extreme dislike of mascots in human clothing, especially those with human hands (the Burger King scares the dickens out of me). People felt like we were saying: “we think you are dinosaurs (metaphorically)”. That may or may not have been true in the case of some targets of the ad, but people felt that we should not be saying that to customers; that it wasn’t really the right way to make the point. Yeah, I get it now. Also, dinosaur heads are scary.
We now have a campaign called “People Ready“. Granted, I am not the target of these advertisements (I believe that the targets are IT Pros and Business Decision Makers….people we like to capitalize). But I think the ads are a step in the right direction, though I’m not 100% getting the full message yet. Hopefully, as the campaign progresses, the idea of People Ready will be further developed and articulated. I definitely think that it hints at what we are about (a variation on the “potential” theme), but doesn’t beat you about the head with it. I kind of want to beaten about the head with it…just a little. With all of these holiday advertisements, I think that is the only way it will make it past my coping mechanism.