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Microsoft Commercials Are Not What You Think They Are!

Microsoft Advertising There’s no place like home. Especially, when you have a cozy couch where you can cuddle with your loved one in front of the TV. When your loved one, who’s as far from the whole IT stuff as humanly possible, starts commenting on IT-related commercials, it only gets better.

Last night a Microsoft’s commercial popped up, one of the latest “I’m a PC and I was made into a stereotype” ones. My girlfriend somehow missed the introductory phrase, so she only caught the part where a bunch of people say “I’m a PC and this is my cubicle” pointing to couple of icebergs or “I’m a PC and I sell fish”.

The question she immediately asked me had fallen like a hammer of doom. The question was: “Is this a commercial to stop outsourcing? Have all these people lost their jobs to India and now have to sell fish or work on icebergs to feed their families?”.

Having argued that Microsoft had delivered their brand-shaping marketing message quite clearly I got puzzled. The message was, of course, delivered quite clearly. It was also obvious that my girlfriend isn’t the target market for those commercials – she’s not involved in IT-related decision making. However, it was a nice revelation to see how such people react to the imagery used in the ad. Without the online hype, without knowing all the IT stories and how Microsoft is getting back at Apple using similar-looking guy and all that buzz – how would these commercials be perceived.

Now I know. These are the commercials about IT guys who lost their jobs. I’m a PC and I sell fish. How much… ?


Blackberry vs. iPhone

RIM’s BlackBerry is the leader in the smartphone market today, but now that the iPhone 3G has become more attractive to both consumers and the enterprise, RIM needs to stop the iPhone onslaught as soon as possible.

There’s no argument about it – devices designed as business tools will work out better for business tasks then devices designed as status symbol. From my personal standpoint – the iPhone isn’t good or bad or evil – it’s just useless.

When you are indeed a business professional your tasks include sending and receiving e-mails, checking and updating schedules, going to meetings, taking notes and, possibly, sharing your thoughts with peers. While passive parts can easily be done with any device, including iPhone, the active parts, that include typing or some other kind of active interacting the Blackberry is ahead by leaps and bounds.

Instead of thoroughly analyzing let’s do the funny thing – let’s look at the way both devices are being positioned in minds of customers. In other words – what do we know about these devices from advertisings, promotions and other PR stunts.

Anything you know about the iPhone is related to entertainment – you can watch YouTube, listen to music, browse the web, run cool Apps. Any poster you can find projects iPhone as a fun cool gadget that will bring envy to your peers eventually making them go through same artificially-induced demand curve that ends with 10 days wait for shiny new thing.

Whatever you see or hear about Blackberry has nothing fancy, cool or entertaining about it. The device is much bulkier, calling it pretty would be an overstatement and it has that vibe about it that you’re connected to your job 24×7. Everything you know about Blackberry is about getting more productive on the go.

Surprised? Did’t think so. The distinct difference between the entertainment center posing as occasional work desk and work power horse occasionally serving as a music player cannot be missed.

So what’s in it for small business? Whether you need to project your status image among collegues and peers – go with the iPhone, you won’t miss. If you need to get the job done – the Blackberry should be your answer.

P.S. Neccessary disclosure: I own and alternate between Samsung Blackjack (creature very similar to Blackberry) and AT&T Tilt.

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Sexy Girls And Hot Cars

Recently I hace stumbled on a conversation that’s about as old as the marketing itself. Someone was complaining that the autoshow in their town wasn’t executed properly. One of the main complaints, among others, was that sexy girls were unfriendly, didn’t quite let visitors take pictures with them, some were even giving cold and disgusted looks to occasional photographers. Overall girls seemed to be tired and uninterested.

Some of the comments were straight to the point, but my attention drew upon definitely off-the-way remark that “you are selling cars, why do you need girls there”. Additionally, the commenter was making a point that men are not the only ones who buy hot expensive cars, women now got the money and can afford same rank of Lexuses, BMWs and Mercedeses without being somebody’s paid “associate”. So the whole idea of girls with cars is outdated and obsolete.

Personally, I am a big proponent of change. The only reasonable excuse from changing that I accept from myself is lazyness, but that’s deeply personal. However, with “cars and chicks” I tend to be on a more conservative side – keep ’em together. There’s a simple rationale behind that (sex sells) but I want it for a bunch of different reasons.

First of all – I like pretty women. The more – the merrier, so a trip to car show is like a free venture to a strip club with camera. Curves of women as well as those of cars are aesthetically pleasing (if we won’t mention the male part of my brain), so watching the show is definitely a positive emotion. Additionally, each car (as most of us, men) believe, posess a personality. By giving a new shiny car to shine next to a good looking pretty lady it has a chance to expand that personality. And it definitely improves the overall image of the brand.

It’s not like BMW or Mercedes or Aston Martin really need to establish their identity. But just think for a moment that one of the most important event in car-making industry – the car show (in NY or LA or Miami or Detroit) is done without girls. Car can’t smile, can’t walk around flowing it’s curvaceous body, can’t flash its cleavage left and right and most importantly – can’t make friends. Now there’s one more little thing to it. Think of all the guys with cameras snapping pictures of girls with cars behind them. These pictures will then be posted on blogs, Flickr, MySpace, Facebook and whatever else you can post your pictures on. A lot more people will see them. Now take that as a FREE VIRAL ADVERTISING AND PROMOTION – imagine how much that many posts, pictures and commentaries would cost if BMW would hire an advertising agency?