'If Microsoft made ...' series continues with fugly iPhone knockoff

Posted on Wed Sep 2 2009

"If Microsoft made ..." is a fledgling genre in the world of YouTube. The whole thing started around 2007 with "If Microsoft made the iPod," which imagined the company releasing the device with cheesy packaging that over-explained every product feature, in contrast to Apple's minimalism. The gist: Microsoft doesn't know marketing. Now, after others imagined how Microsoft would make cars, toasters and Gmail, someone has inevitably gotten around to the iPhone. How would that go? First, it would look like the brick phone that Michael Douglas used in Wall Street. Second, it would have a dumb name: the Zune-like "Fune." Finally, it would have really stupid features like AM radio reception (with an extendable antenna), fax capability and online access via AOL. Laugh it up, Apple fans, but bear in mind that Microsoft has learned its marketing lesson of late and has come back with its own decent satirical ads against Apple. Now, no jokes about "If Microsoft made satirical ads ..."

—Posted by Todd Wasserman

Microsoft sees friendship, maybe more, between you and a PC

Posted on Thu Aug 13 2009

Earlier this week, AdFreak posted a video that showed a man catching a laptop with his butt. Now, Microsoft is continuing the theme of Inappropriate Things You Can Do With a PC, but this time it's tackling the emotional arena. On the PC Hookup YouTube channel, created by Stuff White People Like's Christian Lander, college students are shown falling in love with their PCs after what looks like a round of human/machine speed dating and then getting a chance to take the object of their affection home. "What if you could spend one night with the hottest PC you could find?" teases a female narrator. It turns out, if you're like these kids, you'll do fairly wholesome stuff like play World of Warcraft and download heavy-metal music. These self-styled nerds certainly seem to be enjoying themselves. But hey, kids, be careful out there. There are a lot of viruses and stuff. Use protection.

—Posted by Todd Wasserman

Microsoft's Office 2010 software to redefine action and adventure

Posted on Mon Jul 13 2009

Coming soon to a computer near you: Microsoft Office 2010. The software company wants to disabuse you of the notion that it's all about ho-hum Word documents and Excel spreadsheets. Instead, picture Office 2010: The Movie, which looks like a Matrix sequel with the actors running around yelling about margins and fonts. We wrote about the teaser trailer back in May. Above is the full-length version. At first, it seems less an advertisement and more a project of some film majors with a lot of free time on their hands. I thought it would be corny, but it actually delivers more than a few laughs, particularly when it evokes "Clippy," the much-hated paperclip guide, who bought the farm in 2004. At the very least, Microsoft's marketing of late provides a sharp contrast to Apple's. Apple may be cooler, but Microsoft knows how to laugh at itself.

—Posted by Elana Glowatz

Microsoft's IE8 browser treats disorders you didn't know you had

Posted on Wed Jun 10 2009

You know that feeling you get that you're missing something on the Internet? If you could visualize it, it would look a lot like a pudgy Indian guy in a silver unitard. This mock PSA for Microsoft's Internet Explorer 8 browser warns that the condition known as F.O.M.S. ("Fear of Missing Something"), if left unchecked, can lead to bizarre, hallucinatory confrontations with just such a person, whose idea of a taunt is, "Oh no! You lost a bidding war on a decorative bowl!" A second parody introduces another disorder, S.H.Y.N.E.S.S. ("Sharing Heavily Yet Not Enough Sharing Still"), which the new browser can also treat. It shows a zaftig lady obsessed with forwarding LOLcat pics (every office has a woman like this), and is pretty realistic in depicting how such e-mails are received. "I hate you, Mary," says the recipient. Indiana agency Bradley and Montgomery did the spots. They also star Dean Cain, who displays Airplane-esque deadpanning ability. Who knew he was funny? Who knew Microsoft was funny?

—Posted by Todd Wasserman

Microsoft's Project Natal will rule your living room, then your life

Posted on Tue Jun 2 2009

After watching this video for Microsoft's Project Natal, I am still struggling with one question: How many pushups can Chuck Norris do? The video throws out the question, but never answers it. Otherwise, there's little to quibble with about the promo for Natal, a Wii-to-the-nth-power revamp of Xbox 360. If the video is to be believed, by early 2010 or so, we'll be able to interact with our gaming console with our full bodies and without a controller. Moreover, it will recognize your voice and let teen girls call their friends and virtually try on clothes. The only potential problem will be getting caught bopping around in your living room to the device or maybe kicking the cat while playing one of the martial arts games.

—Posted by Todd Wasserman

Please don't use the word 'search' around Microsoft and Yahoo!

Posted on Mon Jun 1 2009

Search copy

Every so often, marketing flushes out an apt, descriptive word for corporate blather. Before there were one-time-use cameras, for instance, we called them disposables. Used cars gave way to pre-owned, and so forth. The latest word that seems to be marked for extinction is "search," which is being targeted by companies that make what used to be called search engines. Both Yahoo! and Microsoft seemed to have decided last week that they no longer like the term. First, Yahoo! CEO Carol Bartz told CNBC's Jim Goldman that Yahoo! is a lot of things, but "just because we're on the Internet does not mean we're a search company. We are much broader than a search company." Not to be outdone, Microsoft unveiled its latest product, Bing, which it dubbed a "decision engine" that's "the first step in moving beyond search to help make faster, more informed decisions," according to a press release. For its part, Google doesn't stray from the s-word in its company overview. ("Google's founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin developed a new approach to online search ...") But then again, who uses the term "search engine" anyway? Most people just say Google.

—Posted by Todd Wasserman

Microsoft Office 2010: a blockbuster that'll knock your socks off!

Posted on Fri May 29 2009

Microsoft really seems to be coming alive, marketing-wise, lately. For years, you didn't hear much about them, and now they're all over the place. This push for Office 2010 is one of the company's more recent efforts. A 30-second mock trailer for the applications suite preps the viewer for something more along the lines of the fourth installment of the Matrix, as it sets the scene: "There are 5 billion working people in the world," bellows the announcer. "In 2010, their hero will arrive." Yay! More PowerPoint! All of this leads the curious viewer to a Web site where you can download the movie version, which I'm sure is really good, but to watch it you have to download Silverlight, and that didn't work with the Macs we use here at BrandFreak. Good luck with that viral video, Microsoft!

—Posted by Todd Wasserman

Why Microsoft chose 'Bing' as the name of its new search engine

Posted on Thu May 28 2009

Bing

So ... Bing. Why did Microsoft decide to rename its search engine after a Friends character? It turns out the company worked with Interbrand to come up with Bing, which is meant to evoke the "aha" moment of finding what you're looking for. (So, why not Aha then?) Other candidates were said to include Sift and Kumo. "We looked a name that was short, easily recognizable, we could own it. Something that was easy to type into the search box," says Danielle Tiedt, general manager for online audience business group marketing at Microsoft. It's also catchier than Microsoft's previous search-engine name, Windows Live, which sounded like a version of Ice Capades featuring Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer. Of course, Microsoft provides a big fat target for critics. TechCrunch, which got a sneak peek at the logo earlier this week in the form of a favicon (which Microsoft soon took down), compared it to the Cleveland Cavaliers uniforms from the '90s. At Google's I/O event, meanwhile, co-founder Sergey Brin declined to comment directly on Bing, but noted that "we're pretty happy" with the name Google.

—Posted by Todd Wasserman

Microsoft says you'd better be ready to spend $30k on that iPod

Posted on Wed May 20 2009

All the math in CNet's dissection of Wes Moss's new ad for the Microsoft Zune makes my head hurt, but so does the ad's claim that it costs $30,000 to fill a 120GB iPod with music. (This is contrasted with the Zune Pass subscription service, which costs $15 a month.) Unless Microsoft assumes people have never bought music before purchasing an MP3 player, it's argument is flawed from the start. (I had 30 gigs of music before I bought mine, and that doesn't even include CDs ripped from my collection.) And its Zune Pass policy of allowing subscribers to keep 10 songs a month, beyond the subscription, is a little paternalistic, too, like they've decided that we're old enough to be trusted with an allowance. Apple takes a lot of well-deserved flak for their patronizing, snarky hipsterism, but I prefer that to Microsoft appointing themselves everyone's dad.

—Posted by David Kiefaber

Have Microsoft's 'Laptop Hunters' ads thrown Apple for a loop?

Posted on Wed May 13 2009

Is it possible that Microsoft has put Apple on the defensive? It certainly seems that way, since Apple seems to be taking on the popular, closely scrutinized "Lauren" ad from March, part of the "Laptop Hunters" series. Apple broke an ad yesterday from TBWA that features "Megan," a woman perhaps a few years older than Lauren but who exhibits the same low level of sophistication when it comes to shopping for computers. Megan wants a big screen, a fast processor and "something that works without crashing or viruses or a ton of headaches." As in other "Mac vs. PC" ads, the Mac and the PC are represented by Justin Long and John Hodgman, respectively. In this case, though, there are about a dozen "PCs," and as Megan rattles off her specs—big screen, etc.—Hodgeman sends them all packing until he himself has to go. That leaves the suave Long to introduce himself to the smitten Megan. As broadsides go, this is pretty tame stuff. Apple is sort of like a candidate for president. It takes the high road in its own ads, and lets others get their hands dirty with attack ads.

—Posted by Todd Wasserman


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