Friday, April 08, 2005

Microsoft "Your potential. Our passion."

Brand: Microsoft
Execution: TV and Print
Link: click here
Target: All creative people
Reviewer: David
Rating: *

What Works:
This is gorgeous, touching advertising of the type that wins awards. It is empowering and uplifting. The execution in TV and print spots is precise and beautiful.

What Doesn't:
Unfortunately, this campaign does absolutely nothing for the brand. First, the proposition is hazy. "Microsoft powers your passion" - something like that. Nobody can argue that Microsoft powers nearly everything - but are we happy about it? Or do we have the sense of a large company giving us things we don't really need (like Word getting more complex and slower) and exposing us to dangers (virus, hackers, worms, etc.) and generally stifling innovation.

I am not suggesting that this is the true Microsoft. Some of the coolest people I know work there. But starting from the proposition that the mega-brand Microsoft is behind our potential is arguing with the consumer (who doesn't believe this right now) - and good brands do not argue with the consumer.

There is another Microsoft - an innovator, a company willing to take big risks on the future. But we don't see that Microsoft in this campaign. Instead, we get The Truman Show - a vision of an idealized world that Microsoft would like us to live in which just reminds us more why we think they are Big Brother.

It doesn't have to be this way. I'll give you a great example of where Microsoft has gotten it right. Look at X-Box. The following they have built for that machine is among the most hardcore, geekiest, down-and-dirty real gamers. Exactly the people who in other walks of life hate them and use Macs. But Microsoft presented a clean proposition there - a better system dedicated to real gamers. And they actually used their hard-core enthusiasts to tailor this campaign (one of our trainers is the VP of Marketing for EB Games and has seen the X-Box group at work).

The rest of the boys in Redmond could take a lesson from this. Don't be broad and vague and dreamy. Show me a vision of the future that is specific and believable. Commit to something that will improve my life. Make the promise. Then fulfill it. Then perhaps I'll start believing that you support my vision.

DISCLAIMER: Although I think Mac's are great I don't own a single one. I am a Microsoft user.

Branding Bottom Line -
Only reminds us what we don't like about the brand. Can it.


PAUL said...

I agree with David! The tagline "Your Potential, Our Passion" is very clever. When they just use the tagline as part of their Windows campaign or their Office campaign it works...the tagline ties into real products that help you reach your potential.

What fails is when they make the tagline the star in their Microsoft Corporate ads. These print ads feature children or young women who are shown achieving their potential via chalk like drawings that give the reader a glimpse at their future success. Very clever images....

BUT, it tells you nothing about Microsoft! Why not just show a picture of the MONA LISA...a beautiful picture that has not connection to Microsoft.

For the last two years every issue of the Harvard Business Review has featured one of these Microsoft corporate print ads. The copy of the ad tells us that kids have potential (OK) and Microsoft stands in awe of it (SURE) so they are inspired to create software (WHAT???). This doesn't make sense. Why not insert NIKE, or MATTELL or I-POD. Aren't they inspired by kids? There is nothing in these corporate ads that tells you a thing about Microsoft. Why do they own potential? Why do they uniquely leverage this vs. any other product? The premise OVER PROMISES and the prduct connection UNDER DELIVERS.

My suggestion is to actually show individual Microsoft products that helped real people achieve their potential. What software helps them? Help the reader make the leap to show how Microsoft is the BRIDGE between potential and success!

2:09 PM  

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