Over the last year, Microsoft ads have been simply bad on one end of the spectrum and horrible on the other. It's really time for the company to reconsider their ad agency choices and their overall strategy because right now they are throwing good money after bad. I had one friend who described the ads aptly when he said, "It's strange how tone deaf they remain."
The latest in the series of disasters that have been Microsoft ads was pulled last week because people were offended by a woman vomiting three times in a surprisingly realistic portrayal. The ad for Internet Explorer 8 was only available online and it still lives on YouTube if you want to see it. I actually found it mildly amusing in an offensive 7th-grade humor kind of way, but you can see how people wouldn't be drawn to the product after enduring images such as this. My friend and socmedia101.com business partner Julie Roads responded after seeing this ad, "I don't get it." That's unfortunately a typical response to just about every ad from Microsoft over the last year.
Bing Bang Boom
Then there are the Bing ads. The Cure for Search Overload ads; I watch them and I have the same reaction as Roads. I don't get them. Watch this example for yourself and see if you do. Then there's this one, Search Overload Is Over, that actually seems to blame bad search, "being lost in the links," for the economic crisis. Hidden message: Google caused our economic crisis. Wow.
Then There's Lauren and I'm a PC
Lest we forget the whole 'I'm a PC' campaign, which continued the parade of lame campaigns. As I've written in Microsoft Inferiority Complex on Display in in New Ads , these ads fail on a number of levels, chief among them that Microsoft isn't a hardware company and could be actually be selling Windows software to Mac users. I run Windows on in Parallels on my Mac Book Pro, so bragging that you're a PC is effectively isolating your market to one type of hardware. Not smart in a world where virtualization can make any machine a Windows box.
The Bill and Jerry Show
You probably want to forget the short-lived Bill and Jerry show featuring Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld. I knew those were doomed to failure from the get-go as I wrote last summer in Microsoft Seinfeld Strategy to Save Vista is Pathetic. These ads turned to out to be worse than I even imagined when I first heard about the Seinfeld idea and they pulled the plug after a couple of episodes.
I keep waiting for a clever one or a cute one; one that I can really enjoy. It's hard to explain what makes a good ad, but like the Supreme Court ruling on pornography, you know it when you see it. Microsoft hasn't been able to score one great one yet, but there's always Windows 7, right?