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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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    Don’t be a PC

    Its hard to believe how bad Microsoft’s new “PC” commercials are. I find it hard to believe how a giant corporation like Microsoft can be so bad at marketing.

    Surely, someone in the company must realize how ridiculous the ads make Microsoft look. However, since the TV spots were made and continue to air on several channels, the answer ultimately must lie at the top, with current CEO Steve Ballmer. It is the leader of a corporation whose vision filters down to every aspect of the company.

    Additionally, a quick look at the bio of Ballmer on Microsoft’s website shows that he was hired as a business manager and has no technical training or expertise. Judging from my own familiarity with technology companies, when business managers are put in charge of engineers, the company starts to go down the tube.

    Take Microsoft’s rival, Apple, for example. Its products are fresh, and are accompanied by diverse and hip advertising. The commercials featuring the guy from “Die Hard 3” and the PC guy from “Saturday Night Live” fame are clever, and one reason they succeed is because they use talented actors who immediately reach their viewing audience in a fun way.

    In contrast, Microsoft’s “PC” commercials use either “real people” or the un-funny duo of the over-the-hill comedian Jerry Seinfeld and the retired Bill Gates, the stereotype of nerdiness. It’s no surprise that experienced actors are better at getting the message across, but why can’t Microsoft understand such basic truths of advertising? The advertising decisions made by the two different teams of Apple and Microsoft reflect the overall tenor of those companies.

    To add irony to embarrassment, in preparation of writing this article, I saw a bump on the Adult Swim segment of Cartoon Network that revealed that Microsoft’s new “PC” commercials were made using Macs. This was discovered by a clever blogger who checked the metadata on pictures of the ad campaign on Microsoft’s own website, which showed the image was created on Macs running Adobe Creative Suite 3.

    Although, in real figures, the poor advertising campaigns might not make a difference to sales. The morale of the companies and customers involved, however, will definitely be affected.

    Microsoft may still be the main supplier of operating systems for manufactured PCs, but the most talented computer engineers of the next generation will want to work for companies that have a positive image, which Microsoft is slowly loosing.

    Only the future will tell whether companies with stronger managements will take Microsoft’s place as the main provider of PC operating systems and software.

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