By Harry McCracken | Friday, September 12, 2008 at 11:39 am
Back in my post Twenty Thoughts About a Microsoft Ad Campaign I Haven’t Even Seen Yet, which I wrote when the news broke that the company’s spots would costar Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Gates, thought thirteen was as follows:
13. To what degree will these be Vista ads? The immediate goal, of course, is to move copies of Vista and PCs that run the OS. But I think there are signs that Microsoft is already trying to move past Vista and prepare itself for a Windows 7 launch that goes better than Vista’s spotty history to date. So I wouldn’t be surprised if the ads feel more like they’re about improving Windows’ image in general than bolstering Vista specifically–and if Microsoft sees them as an early salvo in the Windows 7 rollout, even though the chances of the ads mentioning Windows 7 directly are less than nil.
There’s lots we still don’t know about the ads, but over at the official Windows Vista blog, Microsoft’s Chris Flores has provided some information that’s relevant to my thoughts above:
“[This] campaign, when fully unveiled, will talk about Windows in all its forms. Not just the OS for PCs we happen to be shipping today. In fact, not just an OS. And not just on PCs. Simply put, this campaign isn’t about Windows Vista. It’s about Windows.”
So yeah, the ad campaign is about Windows, including versions that don’t exist yet. (Flores doesn’t mention Windows Seven explicitly, but the “Not just the OS for PCs we happen to be shipping today” is presumably a reference to the campaign aiming to help out with future versions of the OS as well as Vista, Windows Mobile, and other current cariants.) Makes sense to me–if I were spending $300 million on ads, I’d want them to be about a lot more than a single product which already ships on the vast majority of the world’s PCs.
Flores also reiterates that if the two ads that have aired so far have gotten folks talking, they’ve done their job. It’s later ads in the series that’ll more explicitly promote Windows.
I’m kind of a hidebound traditionalist when it comes to advertising–I wonder if any campaign that needs to be explained by the company behind it can be as successful as one that’s so clear that no explanation is necessary. (The “Get a Mac” ads and just about every other famously successful campaign I can think of, such as “Got Milk?,” speak for themselves.) But I’ll hold off on coming to any conclusions about these ads until I’ve seen more…and once I have, maybe I’ll go back and revisit more of my original twenty thoughts.