Microsoft is the undisputed Goliath in the world of operating systems. Apple, in comparison is no competition on the market share front. But thanks to the initial glitches with Vista and clever marketing by Apple, Microsoft is forced to adopt a defensive stance of late. In order to give an image makeover, they signed on Crispin Porter + Bogusky recently.
Am not too sure if this is an indication of the stance they are likely to adopt in mainline advertising, but Microsoft has just launched the Mojave Experiement. It is similar to the Pepsi Challenge -140 individuals were told to work on a ‘new’ operating system, code named Mojave. These individuals had never tried Vista, because they perceived it to be dreadful. Naturally, they loved the new operating system and when they were told that it was in fact, Vista, they cart wheeled in delight. The videos are here. The blogosphere is giving the event a pasting and The Economist said: You could be forgiven for wondering whether Apple had commissioned the advertisement. It was Microsoft at its worst. If ‘Crispin’s brief is to come up with an answer to Apple’s campaign that does not feel reactive, and somehow makes Microsoft look cool’, as The Economist puts it, this experiment achieves exactly the opposite. The Mojave Experiment is as unreal as it can get – since it was conducted in a controlled environment. The initial problems with Vista (though the OS is vastly improved now) was because it was buggy and incompatible with commonly used hardware.
Interesting how a market leader is forced to be reactive to what competition is doing. Like it or not, Apple’s Get a Mac campaign has succeeded in painting Vista as a headache and uncool to be seen with. No amount of shouting from the rooftop saying ‘I am not as bad as you think, don’t reject me’ is going to help Vista’s image problems. Quite like the whiny, squealer-type mesage in the OS: ‘This program has not stopped responding’. As if telling the user, it’s all your fault. It is the equivalent of the stimulus-response theory. If Jay Leno wants people to think he is funny (he is sometimes) he should not be wearing a placard saying ‘Hey, I am funny’. He cracks jokes which makes people think he is funny. The stimulus he provides for the response are jokes.
If Vista improved its product performance and if that created a buzz on its own, it would have been been better (but a slow burn approach and more hard work!). In India, Vista & Microsoft are virtually worshipped and they don’t have to resort to such defensive tactics. But in the end, all marketing efforts need to be based on a solid product truth. Any instance of shadow play and you will be caught out by the consumer. What say?