If this is going to be the overall message of Microsoft’s much-vaunted new $300 million ad campaign, it might be money well spent. According to the folks at LiveSide, the first ads in the new campaign were previewed at Microsoft’s employees-only Global Exchange conference last week to rave reviews. As Tim Anderson astutely noted the other day, “Vista is now actually better than its reputation. That’s a marketing issue.” Microsoft’s biggest challenge is to get would-be customers to set aside whatever preconceptions they have and listen to its pitch for Vista.
Aligning its most vocal Vista critics with the Flat Earth Society is a clever way to get people’s attention.
But the bigger job, that of actually changing people’s minds, will be easier said than done. Apple has largely defined Vista’s public image so far with its devastating “I’m a Mac, I’m a PC” ads. Responding directly to those ads is a losing tactic. Largely thanks to John Hodgman, the humor bar is set extraordinarily high. Any kind of response ad would legitimize the claims in those Apple ads and run the significant risk of being seen as lame and uncool.
And there’s no sign that anyone in Redmond is going to go down that road. Instead, clicking the link on the “World is flat” add leads to a page headlined, “Windows Vista: Look how far we’ve come.” The copy beneath leads off with a sheepish admission:
When Windows Vista debuted in January 2007, we declared it the best operating system we had ever made. “Windows Vista is beautiful,” The New York Times raved. It’s humbling that millions of you agree.
But we know a few of you were disappointed by your early encounter. Printers didn’t work. Games felt sluggish. You told us—loudly at times—that the latest Windows wasn’t always living up to your high expectations for a Microsoft product.