Microsoft, Beaten To A Pulp, Takes Some More Abuse

If Microsoft thought it could preempt Apple’s continuous abuse with the campaign it launched last month, then it was sadly mistaken. One can see Microsoft’s point: after those Bill&Jerry ads, making fun of Microsoft has turned into a futile exercise on repetition. Would you punch someone who was already frantically punching himself?

Apparently, yes. Apple just couldn’t resist pilling some more abuse on Microsoft, so it released this new “I’m a Mac” ad. The ad takes on the huge price tag attached to the marvelous Crispin Porter + Bogusky campaign, contrasting it with the comparably small amount of money allocated to solving Vistas’s much-talked problems.

Seeing what Microsoft got for the $300 million it gave Crispin Porter, it does seem like a bit of the ungentlemanly thing to do. Abusing Microsoft is now roughly on the same level as making fun of the office dork. But hey, Apple’s is hip, not gentlemanly.

For now, Microsoft can do little but watch in horror as the brand takes yet another round of abuse. But the more sportsmanlike among you need not worry, for this passivity won’t last long. Pretty soon they’ll be launching another one of those great “I’m a PC” ads (the Bill&Jerries have, sadly, already been discontinued). And then what? What will Apple do when everybody’s laughing their heads off at the newest Crispin Porter insanity? Launching still better products? Poor suckers…

Things have come to the point when there are already some voices out there claiming that Apple’s strategy could even backfire, because people will start feeling sorry for Microsoft. The thinking is that Microsoft will start cashing on the sympathy quota reserved for the underdogs, with Apple being seen as the bully that just can’t stop shaking the poor nerd for his lunch money.

Although innovative, this line of thought seems to elude one tiny detail: that Microsoft is by no means a frail nerd, but the true behemoth on the market. The fact that it keeps tripping on its feet when it runs to get other, more nimble, players doesn’t make it the underdog. It just makes it inept.

In the end, that is Microsoft’s true problem, in communications as in anything else. In trying to “take back the narrative”, Microsoft’s latest campaign did nothing of the sort. In fact, the only thing it managed to do was to corner the brand in the “uncool” spot into which Apple had been pushing it.

On top of it, they still had to pay $300 million for the joy of being ridiculed. And they can’t even count on pity. Poor things.


3 Responses to “Microsoft, Beaten To A Pulp, Takes Some More Abuse”

  1. 1 Pedro Rocha October 21, 2008 at 5:32 pm

    I’m sorry, but I cannot ignore the “pity” factor. microsoft is the behemoth, but even a behemoth is capable of cry and feeling hurt – and people relate to that. And hey, picking with the fat rich kid is reaaaaly fun, but when the fat rich kid tries to fight back and then trips on his own feet, picking at him is cruelty, and other kids who are watching the fight will just go “hey, just leave him alone, that’s enough”.

    And I do think the advertising channel should not be used for corporate attacks. That is a message that seems more adequate for other, different communication tools. Like a carefull sondbyte, custom-made for Steve Jobs to drop in an interview.

    Yes, apple’s products are better. And yes, advertising against them was not the way to go for microsoft. They should have invested in the product, in the attitude, and then, when the mutation were to be complete, could eventually advertise about their own changes. period.

    Crispin’s mistake was measuring up against apple, because it only boosted apple’s notoriety. Now apple should be happy about it, but not point it out, under the risk of stop being the cool kid and start being the snob one.



  2. 2 argosmedia October 21, 2008 at 9:46 pm

    A crying behemoth is just too pathetic to generate empathy.
    However, that may not stop Microsoft from trying this novel pitiful approach. At this point, they’re just a few moves away from positioning it as the looser’s brand – if you’re pitiful and inept, then Microsoft is your brand. Yes, one can clearly see the phenomenal potential of that approach.
    Well, the Bible does say that the meek shall inherit the earth. In that case, Microsoft is preparing to rule it.

  3. 3 Pedro Rocha October 22, 2008 at 1:36 am

    Microsoft shouldn’t ask for pity. They should just let Apple blab about making better corporate decisions than their contestants.

    Some brands work better when they are challengers – take Apple or Virgin, for instance, which have a more rebel appeal to them – but respect is still something that matters, in every market and for every stakeholder. Microsoft hasn’t shown any respect towards the market throughout the years, and that’s what has made them hateable. But Apple would be the “bigger brand” if they just kept on their way and not pointing that out. They would prove that they were now a mature company that does no longer need a behemoth to size up against.

    I am a fan of Apple’s products and their brand. But picking on someone who is having a tough time is well… rude. Does Apple actually need that? It is well in it’s way to become an even more powerfull brand, so I don’t think it needs to leverage itself on Microsoft’s corporate mistakes.

    You know… I believe marketing is about common sense. In the long term, respect wins over rudeness. Listening wins over talking. Microsoft should have learned those lessons by now, since they have long outlived their monopolist, unilateral way of imposing things onto us. But if Apple starts saying “look at you now, feeble corporation, trying to strugle in a century that isn’t yours”, it will just take on Microsoft’s role of disrespecting others.

    P.S.: Nice dramatic touch, that bible quote of yours…;)



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