Jul 012009

Everyone’s favorite Microshill Mary-Jo Foley continues to build her case for a Microsoft entry into the mobile phone hardware business: Project Pink.

Not to be confused with a fundraiser for breast cancer‚ the interface for the Project Pink phone is supposedly being designed by the Danger‚ Inc. folks that M$ picked up via acquisition last year.  Who are they?  Aside from being creators of how-to videos that make you want puncture your eardrums with something sharp‚ they were the masterminds behind the Sidekick phone software.

Ed: Danger pulled said eardrum-splitting video.

So it’ll be based on WinMo‚ but with a whimsical Danger overlay?  Maybe smartphone hardware with hip software?  Sounds about as well thought-out as any piece of consumer electronics M$ has put out to me.  Microsoft may also slap their name on the hardware.  Sweet Christ let that please be true.

Even though Microsoft is capable of announcing products that look finished – complete with appearances on late-night TV and star athlete endorsements – 18 months prior to their promised ship dates‚ Mary Jo is having a hard time pinning Redmond down on details.  One thing that is known:  McCann Erickson has been hired to manage the ad campaign for the PinkyPhone.  You may remember them as the firm who directed the Halo 3 campaign for the 360.  In that campaign‚ according to the firm‚ the challenge was changing the question from “how do you pull $40 million of milk from a dried-up titty how do you market a video game?” to “how do you honor a hero?”.  In Pink’s case‚ the challenge will be changing the question from “what the fuck is Microsoft thinking?” to “you guys made the Sidekick?”.

When it comes to shitty follow-ups to competitors’ successful products‚ no one walks into a punch quite like M$.  Here’s to another billion-dollar capital spigot!  Cheers!

Jun 192009

Environmental Steward Dell‚ Inc. got a little knotted up about Apple’s claim that they have the “Greenest family of notebooks in the world”‚ according to the Times. So they complained to the BBB’s National Advertising Division. According to Dell‚ “family” could be taken to mean not just MacBooks‚ but all of its notebooks.  It could also be taken to mean “a group of close blood relatives who you enjoy the company of and are infuriated by simultaneously”.

Apple replied:


That’s kinda what we meant.”

Dell‚ the company that also got Lenovo to drop “World’s Best-Engineered PCs” from its advertising‚ also complained that Apple fails to establish superiority over all other brands in terms of “recyclability, reduced packaging, less toxic materials and increased energy efficiency”.  Anyone who’s ever opened a box from Dell can attest to the company’s never-ending quest for minimalism.

In the end‚ Apple played nice with the NAD (giggity) and changed the word “family” to “lineup”.  Aren’t you glad you live in a world where advertising is policed so effectively by the market?

May 222009

Advertising Age is claiming that “Microsoft (is) Winning in Value Perception”, citing a BrandIndex daily survey of 5,000 people asked “whether they believe they get a get good value for their money” as related to Microsoft and Apple offerings.  The survey, which according to the BrandIndex chart included with the article, rates value on a scale from -100 to 100 and has run since the beginning of 2009.  Apple’s score of 70 in “late winter” (actually more like March 1 to my eye) is now languishing at 12.4, while Microsoft’s score has soared from 0 to 46.  Wow!  Because this is Advertising Age, and not Margin of Error Quarterly, the explanation must be the “Bargain Hunter” ad campaign.

Mmmk.  Couple of questions for the folks at BrandIndex:

-You survey 5,000 people every day about perceived value?  The same 5,000 people?  Because your findings really wouldn’t as mean much if the exact same 5,000 people weren’t asked every day the survey was conducted.

-“Value” is one metric you track, according to your chart.  I also see Mindshare, Buzz, Impression, Quality, Reputation and Satisfaction listed as metrics.  You’re sure “value” means the same thing to all those 5,000 people (and I’m sure it is the same 5,000 that are asked about quality, right?)?  I could easily see that those surveyed would equate “value” with “cheap”, given that “value” and “quality” have overlapping definitions.  Did Apple’s “quality” perception go up and M$’s go down?

As far as I’m concerned, the worst case scenario represented by this survey is that more people regard Microsoft as less expensive as a result of the “Bargain Hunters” campaign.  As we’ve known for a while, the margins on “less expensive” are pretty shitty.

Update: I received an email from a gentleman at BrandIndex last night who explained that the “value” and “quality” metrics are polled individually and that they feel “it is better to ask our questions from independent samples”, which I take to mean they ask only one question each day of their 5,000 respondents.   Also, they are not the same 5,000 people “(b)ecause (the sample) is representative, we do not have to interview the same 5,000 people each day”.  Maybe that is the only feasible way to conduct the survey, but I would contend that getting responses from different people may just as easily reflect different existing opinions they have about the brand, not the fact that their opinion about the brand had changed.

May 012009

durrr.001Microsoft revealed the 3rd ad in its “Bargain Hunter” series and in the great tradition of awesome cinematic 3rd installments, this commercial delivers.
Meet Sheila.  Sheila is an artist, a filmmaker.  She needs to find a performance machine;  “…something that’s going to be able to cut video” (notice the ‘term of art’ usage).  She has $2,000 or less to accomplish this.  She chooses…some shitty HP.
Now granted, her reasoning for not choosing the sub-$2,000 Apple offering is sound: it’s limited by a paltry 2 GB of stock RAM and…well, that’s it.

I’ve refrained from commenting on Microsoft’s recent campaign not only because I’m lazy, but also because Redmond’s been doing a pretty good job making themselves look like assholes.  After seeing the 3rd installment of Bargain Hunters, and having cringed through the Mohave and the Seinfeld Experiments, I can offer but one theory to explain Microsoft’s approach to advertising:

Microsoft thinks consumers are fucking retarded. Continue reading

Apr 232009

In what was little surprise to anyone in the know (and certainly no surprise in the Mac community), Apple announced its street-stomping earnings last night. The 2nd quarter of 2009 represented the high water mark for revenue for a non-holiday quarter at $8.16 billion with a net profit of $1.21 billion, or $1.33 per diluted share.  This compares to $7.51 billion in revenue and net quarterly profit of $1.05 billion, or $1.16 per diluted share for Q2 of 2008.  Gross margin was up 3 1/2% (from 32.9% to 36.4%) YOY.

COO Tim Cook also made some “2nd base statements” about Apple’s interest in the netbook segment‚ going from zero interest‚ zippo‚ none to kind of bashing the segment and going after specific features that make netbooks an unattractive prospect for Apple. Tim’s basically positioning a future Apple offering in this space. Apple’s improvements over the limitations he’s bashing will be the talking points for said offering. Continue reading

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