Thursday, October 16, 2008

Microsoft finally did something right

I have to say I really like the new Microsoft "I'm a PC" commercials (here is an example), which were created right here in Boulder by Crispin Porter + Bogusky. These have been written and blogged about ad nauseum (including the recent revelation that they were created on a Mac), but I'd like to throw in my two cents just to raise the nauseum level one more notch.

(Full disclosure: I'm a fan of Apple products.)

Building your brand requires that you emphasize your strengths while moderating your weaknesses. Microsoft's strength is that its software is ubiquitously deployed and forms a complete solution, particularly for the enterprise. There are several weaknesses with Microsoft's products, including not seamlessly integrating with different media types, forcing customers into a lockstep upgrade path, and a history of unreliability or instability. Microsoft as a corporation is also seen as a monopolistic corporate bully. All of these weaknesses, and more, have been highlighted in Apple's 'I'm a PC/I'm a Mac' commercials (see them all here).

From Microsoft's press release, they state that the new ads highlight "real people celebrating their connection to the community of one billion Windows users worldwide," and they achieve that by featuring an amazingly broad array of users, clearly highlighting Microsoft's ubiquity.

At the same time, they are moderating some of their weaknesses with their choices of users to feature. They show a hip, urban DJ, thereby implicitly addressing the media integration weakness. They show schoolchildren in Africa, addressing the corporate bully issue. This is great stuff.

Do the Mac commercials do the same (highlight the strengths, moderate the weaknesses)? They certainly highlight their strengths in ease of use, stability, and media capabilities. Some of Apple's weaknesses include lack of enterprise solutions, price, a closed iTunes system, and a narrower set of third-party applications. I just reviewed about a dozen of their ads, which hammer on their strengths, but saw very few examples of effectively addressing weaknesses.

For once, I have to give the slight edge to Microsoft.
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