Lisa Hoover 0 Junior Poster

What can your IT department learn from Microsoft's latest advertising bungles? Plenty.

When the company released its "Mojave Experiment" ads (which I'd link to but the site forces you to install Silverlight to view them), the premise was rather sad. It seemed to suggest that at least one of the company's flagship products is so maligned that its existence had to be hidden to get a viewer's attention. In these advertisements, "unsuspecting computer users" are led to believe they're seeing a new operating system called "Mojave." After they claim to like it, they're informed it's actually Windows Vista. Many displays of shock and glee ensue.

Although I'm sure Microsoft hoped otherwise, all many people got from these ads was that, had the company been upfront with what they wanted to show these apparently "unsuspecting computer users," they would have run screaming. Microsoft had to trick people into viewing the product and the commercial. Wow.

Next up are the recent Microsoft ads featuring Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld. Though clever, they're also head-scratchers. After watching, many viewers are left asking what the commercials are actually about. Again, not the best plan when you're trying to sell a product.

Though these two rounds of ads are either too dodgy or too esoteric for most consumers, at least IT departments can learn from them. First, always be straight with the computer users in your workplace. Don't tell workers that the new platform the company switched to is "just like the old one" if it's not. Don't suddenly change the way employees are used to doing things on their machines without warning, and be prepared to offer plenty of training until workers feel comfortable enough to use new applications and software on their own.

Second, don't leave your employees guessing. The last thing an IT department should hear several weeks after implementing a new system is "What's this all about again?" Don't make workers guess how a new app works or why it will benefit them (or the company) in the long run.

In short, if you're implementing a change in infrastructure, be transparent, upfront, and helpful. Hey, Microsoft marketing people? Are you listening? Your last batch of ads were none of the above.