Microsoft gets smart – Tech media stumbles

We had months of advance warning. In fact, Fast Company gave the new Microsoft advertising firm, Crispin Porter + Bogusky, the cover in its June issue and in as much detail allowable proclaimed of what was to come. Clearly the Tech media and blogoshere needed a little more time. 

Its been three weeks since Microsoft’s salvo in response to Apple’s surging share of the U.S. consumer computer market. In those three weeks nearly all the Tech media has fallen over themselves to attack the Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld rendezvous series. Apparently only Mashable and Techdirt paused long enough to get the marketing brilliance we all just witnessed. Here is my comment on a recent TechCrunch post:

The point of these commercials is to get people talking about the brand, not to sell more widgets. Whats Microsoft PR need to defend? Thus far the ads have done exactly what they were supposed to, get the media to talk more about what Microsoft is doing and less about what Apple is doing. With every post, Microsoft is succeeding. Microsoft is now back in the public conversation and it has absolutely nothing to do with any product attributes, which they clearly want to avoid until IE8 and Window 7 come out. Some would call it genius.

Since its launch, Microsoft’s new ad campaign has made a daily appearance in the national news cycle. They definitely have our attention. Earlier this week, it was uncovered that Microsoft was launching phase two of its campaign. Lets pause and consider this statement. When was the iterations of a advertising campaign national news? Ad Week and Ad Age will fold if this continues.

Most of the media felt Microsoft “cancelled” the Seinfeld ads because of the strong criticism, however their PR team was adamant that this was all part of the plan and Jerry may show up later in the campaign. I believe this is true, but it hardly matters. Microsoft PR in conjunction with Crispin Porter + Bogusky has become a Pied Piper of sorts and the Tech media is completely oblivious.

It has been uncool to like Microsoft for years and in that time the Tech media and blogoshere have mostly become Mac Fanboys. Microsoft is using this to their advantage. Undoubtedly there will be the expected criticism for the “I’m a PC” campaign. Proof of this appeared this weekend when reports came out that part of the Microsoft campaign was built on a Mac. Funny, this is not news since nearly all ad agencies use Macs and Crispin Porter + Bogusky admitted to this in the previously mentioned Fast Company article. More still, the media will say it just copies the current Apple ads, but they would be wrong. Beyond making Apple look elitist, the campaign includes an intelligent and engaging interactive viral component.

This is quite possibly the most significant and impressive marketing campaign of this century, and nobody knows it beyond the marketing community. We have not even acknowledged what could be the most devastating blow of all. Apple is expected to announce its new line of Macs in about two weeks? Can Apple maintain its market share? Does Apple know how to take a hit and how will the company respond? It would be an utter failure if they continue on with their current Mac vs PC campaign. Lastly, Google should take note as Microsoft is agitating a similar storm in the antitrust courts that could cripple the search leader.

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