Aug 11

Microsoft’s “PCs for Dummies” campaign

Oh, you devilish marketers at Microsoft. I see the game you play.

You zig when other companies zag. They try to win by making customers feel smarter — but you’re going to win by treating them like idiots. Clever!

Back in May, I put up an article poking fun at what was then the newest Microsoft ad. It featured a rather dim customer whose home is turned into a PC store, exposing her to today’s amazing choices in PCs. Her big discovery: “So there’s no more tower? Wow!”

It was such a shallow spot, I never really imagined it would blossom into a whole campaign. But since then, a number of these things have popped up, each featuring someone you’d never want to be, learning something you don’t need to learn: new PCs are better than old ones.

I’m stirred to action only because this new one seems to be getting a lot of air play of late.

In this ad, we meet Cheryl, apparently the victim of a break-in. A gang has built a PC store in her home without her permission. (Unlike the original  spot, there’s no spouse in on the surprise here — it’s just a home invasion.) Cheryl too is a bit on the dim side: “Where’s the tower for this?” she asks. Heh heh. That one never gets old.

Where I come from, agency people get into fights about these things. Some believe it’s important to do a smart ad vs. one that appeals to the lowest common denominator. They believe in building brands vs. going after the low-hanging fruit.

Unfortunately, when you aim for fruit that’s hanging this low, you look pretty silly to customers who are a heck of a lot smarter. Which is probably 98% of them.

To see more people you can’t relate to, view more ads in this campaign here and here.

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  • Microshaft continue to miss the target.

    But there are a lot of dumb people out there who these adverts hit home with.

    Unfortunately Apple’s slick and well delivered ads go straight over a lot of peoples heads.

    The world is not right.

  • Bmcfadden

    I was at Frye’s this weekend checking out all the alternative tablets to the iPad. A lady asks the salesman “I have a macintosh and want to get a tablet to do word processing on … What should I get?” And the salesman recommends a 7″ Galaxy Tab from samsung running android 2.2. I didnt know whether to cry or scream, I wanted to stage an intervention right there on the spot, both to address her ignorence and the shear foolishness of the salespersons recommendation. I guess the sea of ignorence is vast and wide and there will always be enough foolish consumers to make a few companies a couple bucks. It is a sad, sad world.

  • I totally agree with your article. I continuously can’t believe Microsoft doesn’t target their ads to a “smarter” group of users. I guess they’re going for 2% of the marketshare.

  • ken segall

    I’m normally more the cynic than the optimist, so it’s tempting to agree with you — but I’ll stick with optimism for now.

    Apple’s ads may have a slickness to them, but I don’t think they go over people’s heads. I think they’re clear as a bell and speak to ordinary people’s aspirations — without treating them like idiots. As a result of Apple’s innovation and its marketing, the company continues to grow. It’s all positive for Apple. I’m just amazed that companies like Microsoft seem doomed to flounder.

  • AlfieJr

    “i like the DVR thing.”

    oh yeah, that punch line is sure going to convince a lot of women to buy a new PC. even more than the “500 gigabit hard drive” zinger.

    i just can’t believe any group of presumed professionals could come up with such an incredibly stupid ad.