Howard Dean lost because of poor TV ads, Microsoft has a lesson to learn there too

Howard Dean lost because of poor TV ads, Microsoft has a lesson to learn there too.

Note to Dave Winer: please get over Howard Dean. He lost cause his TV ads sucked. Nothing else. Guess what? Most voters make up their minds based on what they see on TV. Dean's campaign was great because it raised a lot of money. Which is exactly what a campaign needs to do to buy TV ads. The problem was that the ads weren't good and the product wasn't good.

There's a hint for Microsoft there too. We need a new ad campaign. Normal people (read people who aren't Microsoft employees) have no clue about what a Windows Media Center is. Or what's cool about Xbox Live. Or what a SPOT watch is. Or what the best new feature in Office 2003 is. Or what is a feature in Windows XP.

Why is that? Well, name one TV advertisement where we've discussed ANY of this. I can't name one. Not a single one.

For a company with the resources of Microsoft, that's a huge mistake.

What would I do? I'd do a new advertising campaign named something like “the joy of software.”

I'd come out with at least a half dozen different ads, each of which would show customers having fun with our products. I heard today at lunch about an entire family that's keeping in touch with Xbox Live. So, video them having a blast.

I know teachers who use Tablet PCs in their classrooms. There's another ad right there.

I know a Pistachio factory that's being run on Windows XP. Another ad.

I'm sure we can find someone to show how they are using the Windows Media Center at home.

And yet another person (Scott Hanselman, where are you?) to show off his SPOT watch. I thought of Scott cause he took pictures of his watch in front of a billboard for the same.

Add in a Flight Simulator ad, someone using search folders in Outlook 2003, another for showing off Visual Studio, another for SmartPhones, another for PocketPCs, another for OneNote, and we have more than enough for a major new campaign.

It's time for Microsoft to sell the products it has. It's a shame we haven't done it yet.

“But, Scoble, that's too expensive, and 30 second ads aren't long enough to get into features.” First of all, we already spend a huge amount on ads, but we only are doing “image” advertising. Look at our “our passion, your potential” campaign. Or the Office Ads (which I hated, sorry). So clearly we have the money. And, I think 30 seconds is more than enough time to show off one or two cool features from each product. Demonstrating how Xbox Live works, for instance, can be done very quickly.

But, let's think outside the box. Many of our customers have Tivos (or, if they've heard of them, Windows Media Centers). Why not buy some late night infomercial time? Say an hour. Have Erica Weichers and Robert Hess show you stuff in depth. The shorter ads can point you to a Web site, or point out that infomercials are coming soon so set your Tivo.

There's a variety of ways that Microsoft could talk with average everyday users and show off their products. But, we're not.

It's the same mistake Howard Dean made. “Weblogs will do it all” they seemed to think. Well, sorry, that isn't true. If you don't have compelling TV advertising you'll lose in presidential politics, and you'll lose potential sales in the computer software business. After all, if people don't know about your cool stuff, why would they buy it?  [Scobleizer: Microsoft Geek Blogger]

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