Getting better at being funny


We are getting there. I like the ads for suspicious male and hot male…ooops, I mean mail. The other 2 don’t speak to me as much (the baby one, I don’t get at all). Must be because I don’t have kids.


But I have been both a teenager (yes, that dated suspicious males…I’m over that now….in case my parents are reading this) and an office worker; though I will say that the second one maybe should have been called greasy male…cuz that ain’t hot. I’m just saying.


In the past, our advertising has been a little bland for me. We have tons of swagger on campus but that never translated well to commercials. So the fact that Todd Bishop referred to them as risque is something I am totally comfortable with. Risque and a little funny. We are getting there.

Comments (10)

  1. Ariel says:

    Did you see the response over here? http://microsoft.blognewschannel.com/archives/2007/05/09/windows-live-hotmail-commercials-funny-risque/

    The blogger says: "Jeez. I like them pushing the envelope, but I’m a little shocked."

    I really want to believe he’s kidding.

  2. HeatherLeigh says:

    Hmm, he kind of backs down at the end. I want people to be shocked. I hate that we are so mamby-pamby (to use a technical term) with some of our advertising. I guess if you are edgy, you’ll tick some people off. I don’t necessari;y want to say that I am looking forward to it but it’s kind of necessary sometimes. I have a card on my desk that says:

    "Only those that risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go" attributed to T.S. Elliott.

    That works for me. Hey Ariel, want to discuss how we can tick some people off? :)

  3. Lauren Smith says:

    The baby one is totally out there. It has a great setup, but no payoff. Does it mean that I may drag and drop things unwittingly? I don’t like that message!

    I’m also not sure what the preview pane ad was supposed to be about. I’m not sure the people who made that ad know what the preview pane is for…

    The first Hot Male ad was good, if a little bit lacking in punchline. It would have been a great opportunity to show the Drag And Drop capabilities if the dad had gone out for a minute and dragged the Suspicious Male to the Junk Male box. Instead he says "back by 9"?

    The second Hot Male ad was probably the best, if a little long in the middle.

    I don’t know who would be offended by these (except maybe by the moaning in the suspicious male ad). Are they really risque?

    Your internal stuff has always been pretty good. There’s always the iPod packaging ad:

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=36099539665548298

  4. mrscrooge says:

    Ah..sorry but I really didn’t like them at all, mostly for the reasons Lauren already mentioned. Drag-drop sent the wrong message. Also, most people don’t know what ‘preview pane’ means. Oh, and I went and searched Help for ‘preview pane’ and it doesn’t explain what it is. I will say its better than the recent Windows Mobile "Frank" ads. http://www.microsoft.com/windowsmobile/workwherever/default.mspx

    Btw, you guys want risque? Have you seen the OfficeXP Bra ad? :)

  5. Paul says:

    It’s definitely a step in the right direction, but a little disappointing that they don’t have the cojones to use them on TV.  These aren’t risque — they’re just finally catching up with the 1980s.

    Pleasantly funny.

    As to people finding them offensive — I doubt it.  If they do, it defines who your audience isn’t, and that’s a good thing.  It’s called positioning.

    On the other hand, I agree that it is a little shocking for a company that rested its laurels on a weird dinosaur idea for several years.  I’m just saying . . .

    Lauren re: babies.  It’s a non sequitur.  Like a lot of humor, it’s the juxtaposition that matters.  It’s not intended to be taken literally.  Does anything that isn’t slapstick or pure physical comedy make sense literally?  The other ads don’t make sense either, unless you suspend disbelief.

  6. HeatherLeigh says:

    Agree with Lauren, but I still think it’s a step in the right direction (like Paul says). The packaging thing was never meant to be an ad though.

    mrscrooge – I am scared to ask about that ad. :)

    Paul – I knew the dinosaurs were going to come up. I found the dinosaur ads unfunny but couldn’t figure out if they were intended to be.

  7. Paul says:

    Is it because I’m that predictable, or the dinosaurs were so bad?  I really meant to say "inscrutable" more than "weird".

    Sometimes we forget that ads are meant to sell and differentiate while building a brand — the dinos did none of these.  At least I can relate to this new series a litte bit, but like I said, it’s a mistake not to use them on tv — Microsoft has a lot of image rehabilitation to do (and it would help push the stock up, which I’m pretty keen on seeing these days).

    Maybe Microsoft’s techie culture prevents you from seeing what you your customers want to hear and believe about you.  Really, they just want to believe that you are a little bit like them.  I think these clips go a ways towards making you more approachable, less monolithic and borg-like, and more like you understand the world your customers live in.

    It really doesn’t matter if you "get" the story line — they are not intended to be literally interpreted, just to leave you with an impression, an idea, a feeling that using the Live products is a bit cool, and frankly to talk about things that you assume your customers already know, but that a lot don’t, etc.  The people that are looking at your website already have a different impression of Microsoft.  The ones who need to see these clips are the ones who don’t visit your website.

    For all those who are trying to interpret the meaning of the baby ad, what did you think the meaning of the dinosaur ads was?  They certainly weren’t funny, and if I tried to interpret them literally, the only thing I got out of them was that you thought your customers were dinosaurs — not a real positive message there.

    I don’t think the "bra" ads were ever done in English, but they were as inscrutable as the dino ads, if provocative.  See http://www.theregister.co.uk/2001/07/23/buy_windows_xp_and_grapple/ .

  8. HeatherLeigh says:

    No, we see what people believe about us. In fact, we spend quite a bit of resources researching it and we are very self-critical as a company. Perhaps we have access to data about our brand perception that you don’t have and that is what drove the content in the ads. There’s a difference between "my opinion" and "market data". We don’t just pull this stuff out of a velvet bag.

    The dinosaur ads still made more sense to me than the baby ad. I didn’t end up liking them but I understood them. They just weren’t funny.

    I like hearing your opinion, Paul, but how come I always feel like we are getting lectured? :)

  9. Jim S says:

    These ads seem like something a teenage stoner would come up with. Can’t Microsoft find any good ad agencies? Maybe the executives in charge have poor/lame taste.

  10. mrscrooge says:

    The "Great moments in Office" series of ads were funnier in that Office Space kind of way. What did you guys think of it?