Several months ago I had the good fortune to meet Hugh MacLeod and not long after, the Blue Monster cartoon was born. Joe Wilcox recently observed that I was doing Moonshine Marketing and the real marketers at Microsoft should take note. A few have and I'm being asked more often whether Hugh will draw a cartoon for this campaign or that campaign. It's been an interesting viral ride and Hugh has recently drawn a set of cartoons he's releasing at www.gapingvoid.com that talk to Microsoft's Partner Community and how to be profitable working with Microsoft. The Partner Group is where I work and if you'd have asked me 6 months ago would we be doing something like this, I'd have said "I hope so....but it'll never happen". Things change at Microsoft, sometimes faster than you think possible.
Kris decided to break the mould and has more details on the campaign on her blog but I thought it would be worth giving some of the back-story on this.
Blue Monster has raised some eyebrows that's for sure. More importantly though it's started conversations. When I hand out my Blue Monster business card these days (with my Microsoft details on the reverse) people are taken aback....and then they ask what it's all about. Before we know it, we're in a conversation about the work Microsoft does and how it has a positive impact rather than the usual defensive conversation I often find myself in. That never happens when I give out my corporate business card. People accept the card and politely tuck it away in their pack of cards. Just last week I was asked for my Blue Monster card simply because someone wanted a copy of it....like I say, it's been an interesting virus. When was the last time someone wanted to frame a Microsoft "poster" like they have with the lithographs we handed out? Mmm, probably never. I sent it to Steve Ballmer - he liked it. I sent it to Lisa Brummel - she liked it. I've sent it to many of our UK execs and they like it. Plenty of people have reservations about the monster image but that evaporates when they see the irony and the fact that it starts a conversation.
Okay so Hugh's an A-lister and all that and you may say we're just trying to be cool here and maybe you're right. If you're ever in London though, give me a call and we'll go out for beers with Hugh - we do about every other week or so - and you'll see there is some substance to the conversation. Plus lots of Guinness and red wine 🙂 He's a shrewd observer of business and life and I think his cartoons bring some long overdue humour and humility to Microsoft. Sometimes our stuff is just too direct or sometimes too subtle. With his talent for cartoons he cuts through that and often spots the message we don't or are too close to see.
Bottom line: it's all about conversations. We need to step outside and view Microsoft from there more often. Hugh's helping us do that by stimulating the conversation. He's got a megaphone in to the digital world that works. It could all go horribly wrong and I could get fired tomorrow. But hey, playing it safe just ain't me.
So please join the conversation. I've seen The Blue Monster series of cartoons and I think you'll enjoy them. Hugh will be releasing more over the coming days and weeks 🙂