At long last Microsoft held the consumer launch of Windows Vista and Office 2007 today and Ad Age’s Beth Snyder Bulik asks the obvious question about all the accompanying festivities:
There won’t be a PC sold anywhere in the world that doesn’t have Vista within six months,” said Endpoint Technology Associates analyst Roger Kay, a fact that might leave ad watchers wondering why Microsoft is about to launch the product with one of the biggest marketing blitzes of all time.
This will be the company’s “most aggressive launch ever,” resulting in an injection, across 20 countries, of an estimated $500 million into agency and media-owner coffers — which seems excessive for a product that will walk out of the stores on more or less every PC sold from here on in.
But that’s not the point, according to Microsoft — which goes so far as to borrow from images such as a child discovering a snowfall, the fall of the Berlin Wall and Woodstock to persuade consumers that Vista is not just an operating system, but a potentially life-changing event. “Awareness is not enough,” said John B. Williams, general manager-Windows global communications. “The goal for this campaign [is to] get at the heart of excitement.”
Not to mention humor too, apparently. Actually, there are a number of sensible reasons for the marketing campaign not the least of which are co-op commitments to hardware and software partners as well as hopes for general corporate image buffing after the protracted Vista slippage nightmare. Anyhow, today’s launch events are summarized here along with some slips along the way:
But the event was short on corporate substance and long on glitz. And Office 2007, which was released to consumers alongside Vista on Tuesday, was scarcely mentioned as entertainment was more of a focus of the event than software. The rock band Angels & Airwaves performed to kick off the presentation, taking the stage after a three-man drumming outfit warmed up the crowd with a sweaty performance. Following the executives’ remarks, Angels & Airwaves took the stage again and performed a concert for attendees, which included press and beta testers as well as Microsoft employees.
Perhaps Microsoft focused on entertainment because many of those attending the launch waited a long time in below-freezing temperatures to get in. An hour and a half before the official presentation was set to begin, the line to enter the event stretched more than a block down Broadway in midtown Manhattan.
When the plight of attendees was mentioned to a high-ranking executive at Microsoft’s main public relations firm, Waggener Edstrom, he remarked dryly, “We didn’t do this event.” Indeed, it was Microsoft’s other agency, Edelman, that planned and hosted the Vista launch event Monday.