Kirk Evans Blog

.NET From a Markup Perspective

Where’s the Marketing?

I get this email in my inbox from my chain of bosses (my boss, my boss’s boss, and so on) about a marketing campaign to Bring the Love Back. Very cute little commercial.

I work for Microsoft.  I believe, sleep, eat, breathe, bleed, live, and die Microsoft.  Yep, I think Microsoft is doing so many things better than their competitors that I am usually the first to defend Microsoft at any social gathering, club, bar, golf outing, user group meeting, or whatever. 

I have to say that I love the commercial, I hope that this group at Microsoft gets involved with Microsoft’s own marketing ineptness. 

Ballmer stands on stage and professes, “I… LOVE… THIS ….. COMPANY!!!”  I could be his backup singer on that line, I absolutely love this company.  However, I am not a company yes-Man, I am one of our most vocal critics when I think we suck.  And when it comes to marketing, I truly think we redfine the word suck.  I think our commercials are horrible, our vision is painful, and nobody can really quote a Microsoft commercial that was memorable.

Go watch Bring the Love Back, I’ll wait.  No seriously, go watch it… it’s worth your 30 seconds.  Bring the Love Back is cute, it conveys the story that we try to tell customers all the time, this is a new Microsoft that you didn’t see when Windows 3.1 was out.

Now let’s look at some other recent brain farts around our marketing prowress.  I can’t put a finger on it, call it buzz… but Apple is kicking our arses at marketing.  Applie is kicking our arses so badly that my mom called me yesterday to ask why Apple machines never have viruses and PCs do.  She asks why Vista asks so many questions about security.  Read about Zune in anything lately?  Nope, but I bet you read Dunesbury comics with iPods in them.  I am stil lin shock that I never read anything to the effect of, “Microsoft’s Zune marketing debacle was reportedly another apparent attempt by Apple to subvert Microsoft’s strike price by bribing marketing firms to produce crappy campaigns for the Redmond-based software giant”.  Her’s some other Microsoft blunders in marketing.

  1. Office Dinosaur.  I can’t seem to find a clip of any of these commercials… if someone finds one, please let me know.  I could only find one guy who thinks they’re great, I thought that a reject from Foxworthy’s 5th grader show put them together.  Seriously, they don’t resonate.
  2. People_Ready.  Holy shmokes.  This completely looks like an IBM ad.  Where’s the chick throwing the hammer at big brother?  Where’s the computer that talks and introduces itself on stage?  Where’s the outrage at the status quo?  Nope… we look like we hired a reject project from Big Blue and aired it with a Microsoft logo on it. I have yet to ask a single person what they remember about any Vista commercial, but they sure can recite a flurry of commercials where some kid with pot resin in his jacket claims he is a Mac.
  3. Your Potential, Our Passion.  What does that even mean, anyway?  We are getting hot and heavy thinking about college interns? 

It’s as if the marketing folks at Microsoft thought long and hard about how to further solidify our image as a technology follower instead of touting the amazing things we have accomplished as technology leaders.  The fact that AJAX is now in the common vernacular tied to Google instead of Microsoft (who invented the technology) is bizarre to me.  The fact that our marketing folks just can’t seem to understand where our customers are at is unreal. 

We market Visual Studio to developers… great, that’s a product.  Open up MSDN Magazine and look at the ads, you’ll see ads for Visual Studio in there.  Any ads for WCF or WF by themselves?  Nope, yet those are what we spend most of our time talking about, that’s what folks want to hear about.  That is, until a month ago at MIX, and now everyone wants to know about the DLR and Silverlight.  If you watched the commercial on Bring Back the Love, you would understand where I am coming from… we are not taking the marketing where the people are anymore.  Market WCF and BizTalk in areas where IBM is punding webcasts and events into around “SOA” (another area where our marketing folks are letting competitors assert themselves over our thought-leadership).

Why don’t we market technologies?  Let’s take Silverlight well past NAB, past MIX… past the developers.  I dare, triple-dog-dare our marketing folks, put a Silverlight ad in CIO magazine.  Highlight the fact that search engines can now find your data.  That’s where that customer resides, take the ad to where they live.  Hit the folks that manage by magazine and put ads in the seat-back-pockets of the major airlines.  You did it with Windows Mobile and it worked, let’s do it with Silverlight as well.

I am seriously sick of our marketing.  We seem to ignore major sporting events, market in areas where it doesn’t make sense to the technical community, and we run ad campaigns that are ignored and never quoted.  While Dave is ordering a hot dog at his kid’s first Yankees game, there should be a Microsoft presence there somewhere.  I look around, I see nothing except at the SEA-TAC airport.  Oh yeah, more People_Ready crap.

Here’s a throw-down challenge to our marketing folks:  Make an ad that compels YouTube users to make fun of it, like Apple is doing now.  There are a ton of ads making fun of the “I’m a Mac, and I’m a PC” ads. I came up with 3, and blogged about several other existing versions.  Get something on the air that riles someone so deeply that they have to make a funny counter-ad, and you have succeeded.  Until then, our marketing sucks.

I told you to go back and watch the commercial, even told you I would wait while you did it.  Now quote a single line from the commercial.  You can’t.

Where’s the Beef?