Microsoft’s Odd (and, in One Case, Utterly Revolting) Ads for Internet Explorer

By  |  Monday, June 29, 2009 at 7:54 pm

Internet Explorer 8 LogoInternet Explorer 8 is a decent browser, but there’s a new ad for it (showing only online, according to Idsgn, which is where I read about it by way of Daring Fireball) that not only doesn’t make me want to use IE, but has me contemplating going door to door, beseeching my fellow human beings to avoid it.

The commercials star Dean “Former Superman” Cain, and three of them merely suffer from the odd trait–common to about 85 percent of Microsoft ads–of portraying Microsoft customers as being a little less than intelligent, self-respecting grownups. Here are those three:

Okay, so far reasonable people can disagree as to the merits of these ads or lack thereof. But the fourth ad is so disgusting that I don’t want it playing in the same browser tab as my site if I can help it. Here it is–watch only if you have a strong stomach. It’s vile, and makes me think less of Microsoft as a company for having approved it. (Yes, I’m aware that it isn’t aimed at me, and yes, I do have a sense of humor.)

I’m used to browser companies getting a little defensive and telling me that their private-browsing features aren’t all about hiding porn; this commercial seems to say that IE 8’s InPrivate is about porn. Particularly repulsive porn, apparently. It’s quite a long way from “Your Potential. Our Passion.”

Google has run a Chrome ad that’s cryptic but entertaining; Mozilla once had a contest for user-produced Firefox commercials that prompted some genuinely inventive little films. Microsoft’s strategy for convincing people to try IE 8 appears to be…to gross them out. It doesn’t seem like a strategy for success to me, and I hope I’m right.

Gimme Lauren. Bring back Seinfeld. Even revive the commercials depicting Microsoft Office users as dinosaurs. Just spare us the marketing through projectile vomiting. Please?

[UPDATE: I’ve moved on to wondering whether this is the worst commercial ever made for a tech product. Other candidates welcome…]

[FURTHER UPDATE: Microsoft has killed the ad.]

 
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40 Comments For This Post

  1. Juha Says:

    I am reminded of that Bud Lite commercial where the guy gets held hostage by a convenience store robber. Someone’s trying to get gritty but missing the witty in the ads.

  2. Josh Says:

    These ads (except for the vomit one) had been showing up in my daily Hulu watching, and I had been enjoying them. Yeah, the vomit one is pretty vile, although I thought also pretty funny. Yet, I found even funnier the fact that the YouTube link provided in this post also has a handy link from Google at the bottom of the page (immediately below the video comments) to download Chrome. Coincidence?

  3. Peggy Says:

    That is the most revolting commercial ever. They are going to AIR that?

  4. adverlicious Says:

    FWIW, Microsoft’s conventional banner ads for Internet Explorer are very vanilla — features & benefits without any real color.

    From my archive of online ads:

    http://adverlicio.us/internet_explorer

  5. Eric Says:

    Microsoft has enough money to triple the price of whatever Bud Light pays their advertising people, or Apple for that matter. Most of those commercials are subtle, witty, or just plain funny. These, along with the latest PC ads are just horrible and insulting to our intelligence. Who puts this stuff together and who approves it? Wow. Hire a different ad company and fire whoever stamps these things “approved”. I do enjoy the bing.com commercials though, they seem to hit home for me. I still use Google but hey…I try bing once in a while. If IE 8 is really better people will migrate back to it naturally. MS has been so far behind in the browser wars it really borders on pathetic with these new ads. MS still has the dominant browser they need to act like it, albeit from bundling it with windows.

  6. David Worthington Says:

    gross

  7. Jose Alvear Says:

    Wow that was totally gross. Too bad I can never unwatch it.

  8. Randy Peterman Says:

    I agree completely: these are horrible. They’ve missed the mark. These are shock comedy commercials which fail to reach a broader demographic for sure. You could say that they’re getting people talking, but it would be that they’re talking about switching to OS X.

  9. JustCallMeBen Says:

    I guess at MS they keep telling themselves any publicity is good publicity… which isn’t true if everybody already knows your product. These ads are repulsive and degrade the IE user, which I think they won’t appreciate.

    While Seinfield was only weird (but created a buzz on the inet, which WAS good for MS) and Lauren only raged out Mac-users, this ad actually pretends IE-users are morons, dementing old people and perverts… that just can’t be good.

  10. Michael Says:

    Wow, that ad can’t really be from Microsoft can it?

  11. ediedi Says:

    They could heve been funny, but they came up weird, and kind of missing the mark. They try to appeal to ‘smarter’ audiences, which would never use IE willingly anyway.

  12. Amber Thompson Says:

    I’ll give #4 a 2.

  13. tom b Says:

    I bet Ballmer loves flatulence jokes, too. Man, Gates should have picked his frat buddies more carefully.

  14. tom b Says:

    “Lauren only raged out Mac-users”

    The annoying thing was the artificiality of the comparisons. But, much has been written on the Lauren series already, so best to stick to this latest trainwreck……

  15. John Says:

    Holy Crap those are BAD. I was expecting MS’s usual kind of weird ads but this is just horrible.

  16. JDoors Says:

    I found them to be funny and edgy. Uh, what’s your complaint again? You don’t like ‘em? :rolleyes:

    Re: Puke. Some of the funniest scenes in movies and on TV involve relentless puking. But it’s Microsoft, so it’s NOT funny?

  17. Ken Says:

    The woman in the 4th ad just saw the IE8 interface on the screen, which cause the “revolting” reaction. The man obviously has a stronger stomach for ugly. Solution – Use some other browser…

  18. Comedian Says:

    People who say they have a sense of humor never have a sense of humor

  19. Dan Coulter Says:

    I don’t particularly like the ads and they’d probably get annoying if I had to watch them over and over on TV, but “utterly revolting,” “disgusting,” and “vile”? Watch Team America. The vomit in this ad is nothing.

  20. dt Says:

    funny. that’s exactly what I do every time I use IE8.

    dt

  21. Tim Conneally Says:

    After that build-up, I was expecting a much grosser puke (Think Meaning of Life)

  22. RD Says:

    Well they got you to write a blog post about their “disgusting ads” and now more people are watching them. Free Advertising… Outcome achieved!

  23. Marah Marie Says:

    I think the ad that can’t be linked to on this page because it’s completely disgusting is completely hilarious. I’m sending it to EVERYBODY. 2 thumbs up! My genetic material must be made up of one quarter 4chan…what can I tell you?

  24. Joe Says:

    I just thought they were pretty funny. Yes, even the vomit one.

  25. Pete Austin Says:

    Silverlight animation makes me nauseous too.

  26. Steve G Says:

    I think you’re a little out of touch. These are hilariously ironic and in touch. I love them.

  27. naysh Says:

    the web ad campaigns are even more horrible, with one offering to feed a homeless person for each download of microsoft internet explorer 8.

  28. David Says:

    I got a chuckle out of them. Geezz… you people need to lighten up and not take everything so serious. What a bunch of wussies.

    D

  29. Pants McCracky Says:

    This is just embarrassing, watching Microsoft trying to be all hip and edgy. On a par with the infamous Subaru “Like Punk, Except It’s a Car” ads.

  30. ektachrome Says:

    Hmmm – yes, the vomiting – my reaction to all of this over-the-top death of Michael Jackson coverage…

  31. Matt Says:

    Are we so enamored of companies like Apple – who wouldn’t and couldn’t make fun of themselves if the survival of the universe depended on it – that we are completely unable to recognize self-deprecating humor when we see it?

    Does anyone remember the Bill Gates “last day” video? …or the one where Microsoft’s marketing department repackages the iPod? Microsoft’s got a history of making fun of itself.

    And gosh, you’re so disturbed by a little fake puke? That was not, BTW, “projectile” vomiting. That was your simple everyday run-of-the-mill garden-variety vomiting… The puke barely traveled three or four inches… Projectile! Hah! Go do some research: watch The Exorcist again!

    Humorless. You. Are.

    Sorry, but if you ever have to actually and seriously form the sentence, “I do have a sense of humor.”, you just don’t: Q.E.D.

  32. Harry McCracken Says:

    For what it’s worth, I liked Microsoft’s “if we made the the iPod” ad. And don’t understand what being enamored with Apple has to do with liking or disliking the IE ad, other than that some people
    want to see everything relating to Microsoft and/or Apple through a Microsoft-vs.-Apple prism.

    I’ve leave it up to the rest of the world to decide if I have a sense of humor or not, but I do know that I’m not the least bit offended by the thought that some people like this commercial. “You lack a sense of humor because you weren’t amused by something I liked” is a pretty sad way of thinking.

    –Harry

  33. riflessioniquotidiane Says:

    good, very nice post and good discussion.
    http://riflessioniquotidiane.wordpress.com

  34. curious Says:

    why’d you remove the video so quickly?

  35. tommyy77 Says:

    The 4th ad has been deleted by YouTube, please upload elsewhere.
    I watched those ads in shocks, they are really very strange and not funny.

  36. boggartblog Says:

    Disgusted by projectike vomiting? You people have never watch Little Britain series 2 & 3 (available over there on BBC America I’m told. The comedy possibilities are fully explored by Matt Lucas and David Walliams in a running sketch

  37. Ashley Futak Says:

    Did you think the pulled @IE ad was bad? Funny? Can you do better? Here’s your chance http://bit.ly/17mYqu! You can make your own video and create you very own acronym–it could be part of IE8’s marketing campaign! It’s time to give Dean Cain a run for his money!

    Ashley

  38. lastres0rt Says:

    There are plenty of good reasons to use private browsing – AKA the “I’m on my friend’s laptop” mode.

    Touting private mode for porn is like advertising the Pirate Bay because it’s cheaper than Amazon. Sure, that’s what a lot of people will USE it for, but there’s no need to come out and say it.

  39. Tim Bennett Says:

    Bad taste and hilarious, I reckon. But the pitch is all wrong: they’ve aimed it at the victim, not the perpetrator. It should be about how IE8 protects you from an invasion of privacy, not how it protects you from others’ bad taste.

    Oh, and the vomiting wasn’t over-the-top enough. Needed more force and quantity.

  40. Jessica Sideways Says:

    I don’t see the purpose in Microsoft advertising IE 8. I mean, automatic updates have been a feature of Windows since ’98. Why advertise? Especially since the ONLY people who can run it are people who have WIndows And plus, these ads just make no bloody sense at all.

    Mozilla got it’s market share through word of mouth and social networking. IE got it through bundling it’s crapware with Windows. Plain and simple.

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