Monday, September 22, 2008

The Empire Strikes Back

In an effort to compete with Apple's growing market share and ubiquitous marketing, Microsoft recently launched a 300 million dollar "image improvement" campaign. The goal is to redefine the stereotypical "boring" Microsoft user depicted in Apple's advertisements.

The first teaser commercials feature Bill Gates & Jerry Seinfeld enjoying life as everyday Americans. At 10 million USD, was Seinfeld the right celebrity to launch the campaign? Seinfeld's popularity peaked during the 1990s with his television show, the same time that Apple's mainstream popularity started to accelerate. Is Seinfeld the innovative image that will help redefine a technology brand for the 21st century?

From political bloggers to Pharell to Eva Longoria, the new Microsoft commercials that launch this week depict everyday Microsoft users. The advertisements personalize Apple's interpretation of the stereotypical Microsoft user. Will it work ?

The consumer's experience is the key.
From aesthetic facades to passionate employees to simple store layouts, the experience of buying an Apple is exciting and rewarding for a consumer. The positive experience generates buzz for the company and encourages Apple users to share passion for the brand.

Did Apple's shopping experience exist ten a decade ago? No, ten years ago Apple was sold in corners of generic computer warehouses, like CompUSA. When Apple created the Apple Store, the experience of buying an Apple suddenly became cool for consumers. Similar to a luxury shopping venue, Apple's stores offer a rewarding and satisfying experience. Consumers are encouraged to browse, ask questions and interact with products.

A ground-up philosophy.
Apple's approach of restructuring the shopping experience first and then launching innovative commercials to promote the brand, solidified the brand's success. If Microsoft is to positively redefine the company's image, why don't they change the customer's shopping experience first instead of latter? Yes, spending lots of money to promote a brand will increase awareness, but will it close the sale?

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