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December 12, 2006

Lipstick for the pigs

Posted by David Hunter at 10:32 AM ET.

After some recent public relations faux pas, Microsoft is apparently feeling the need for a makeover on some of their initiatives. To that end:

Presumably to calm the rancor over Microsoft’s deal with Novell, Microsoft released the results of a survey of 201 “IT executives, managers or staff” which reveals that they overwhelmingly favor interoperability:

“This survey confirms for us what we’ve been hearing from customers all along. They want technology vendors to work together to promote interoperability and to stand behind the products they sell and service,” said Susan Hauser, general manager of customer advocacy at Microsoft.

The really interesting part, of course, is what the survey respondents wanted who weren’t in favor of interoperability and vendors standing behind their products, but that wasn’t vouchsafed to us.

Then despite the brave words about sales of Microsoft’s Zune personal media player sales being on target, there are rumbles that an increased advertising push is really what the Zune needs:

To tout its Zune, Microsoft launched a marketing campaign on par with that for the original Xbox. But now that the music player has spent a month on the market, the company is considering increasing its advertising to attract more attention to it.

“We are talking about upping that spend a little more,” Marketing Director Jason Reindorp told CNET last week.

Microsoft has been pitching the Zune in TV spots, outdoor ads, print ads and online promos, mainly trying to get into the heads of those aged 18 to 28. But even with a decent size marketing budget, Microsoft knows it may need to buy more ads to try to get the Zune better known.

The company’s initial goal was to have its ads reach about one quarter of those in its target age range, and reach them at least three times. It has TV ads that have run in shows like Prison Break, Family Guy and Grey’s Anatomy, and has inserted print ads in magazines such as Scratch, Paste, Spin, Vibe and Rolling Stone. There are also online ads on sites like AOL, Billboard and MTV, as well as on Microsoft’s own MSN site.

“A key principle to our advertising creative is authenticity, in that the Zune brand is about celebrating great artists and the real people that enjoy it,” Kingsley said.

For now, Microsoft plans to continue targeting the same age range, but the company is open to tweaking things the campaign it finds it needs to broaden or change its demographics.

“We’ll obviously keep a close eye and, if we need to or want to, we’ll shift focus,” Reindorp said.

Here’s a modest suggestion for a shifted focus: lose the agencies that dreamed up the rabbit petters, flaming birds, scratching dog, and endless cookie and just advertise the darn product. If the Wi-Fi sharing is so cool, why not actually show some regular folks doing it and saying “Oooo!” and “Ah!” Just a thought.

Also related: I see that Amazon has knocked $20 off the original $249.99 Zune price. I wonder if Microsoft is funding that too?

Filed under Amazon, Argo, Coopetition, General Business, Marketing, Microsoft, Novell, Public Relations, Zune

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3 Responses to “Lipstick for the pigs”

  1. Microsoft Novell deal keeps on giving -- Microsoft News Tracker Says:

    [...] Meanwhile, Microsoft and Novell continued putting lipstick on the pig with a joint press release ([1], [2]) touting “More Customer Momentum Around the Microsoft-Novell Agreement”: Deutsche Bank AG, Credit Suisse and AIG Technologies today became some of the first customers to tap the benefits of the recently announced collaboration between Microsoft Corp. and Novell Inc. on interoperability between Microsoft Windows and Linux. Under three separate customer agreements, Microsoft will deliver to each company SUSE Linux Enterprise subscription certificates, allowing these customers to take advantage of the Microsoft and Novell agreement. Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank and AIG Technologies, which is a member company of American International Group Inc., highlighted the benefits of interoperability, the patent cooperation agreement and the road map for bidirectional virtualization solutions as the deciding factors in their choice. [...]

  2. Zune to go DRM-free with EMI sometime -- Microsoft News Tracker Says:

    [...] In other Zune news, Reindorp says Microsoft is planning new colors of “baby pink” and “watermelon red” plus a new ad blitz: Reindorp said that the first ads were mostly about establishing the brand, while the new advertising, which includes a TV spot, focuses on features that make the Zune stand out from the iPod, such as its support for subscription music, larger screen and built-in FM tuner. What, no social? And there’s that pesky subscription model again. Still, as we’ve observed before, just about any ads would be better than the Zune first wave. Filed under Coopetition, Technologies, Apple, DRM, Microsoft, Argo, Zune [...]

  3. Trying to make Microsoft seem cool | Microsoft News Tracker Says:

    [...] It isn’t spelled out explicitly in the article, but Microsoft has many advertising campaigns for its many products and the one in question is a $300 million exercise in consumer product branding. That seems to cover Zune, Xbox, Windows Live, and even Vista, but we won’t know until about July when the campaign is rumored to start. It is the nature of the beast that most advertising campaigns fall flat, but it will be interesting to see what vaunted purveyors of corporate "cool"  like Crispin Porter + Bogusky can come up with. They certainly can’t do worse than what has passed for Zune advertising.   Filed under General Business, Marketing, Microsoft   [Permalink] [TrackBack] [...]

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