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27 June, 2005

Odd sell

In the middle of 'From Hell' (which, incidentally, failed to impress) last night, Channel 4 showed an advert in which a woman was pleased to have split from her boyfriend, as it gave her material to compose a song, record it, and burn it to CD-R, with fame and fortune to follow.

The advert was for Windows XP, and irritated me.

Firstly, so far as I'm aware, WinXP doesn't include music authoring, recording and burning software as standard, and if it does, I doubt anyone would seriously use such applications rather than third-party packages. This means the advert was selling Windows on the merits of other companies' products, rather than saying anything particularly favourable about the operating system itself.
This is rather analogous to featuring arty shots of Prague and the copy: "Come to Prague! Prague's great!" in an ad actually for Manchester Airport, or perhaps for an aviation fuel company.

Secondly: a TV advert for a computer operating system? What's the point? Anyone who buys a Wintel PC will already receive WinXP. The tiny minority (heh) who buy Macs wouldn't need WinXP. The probably even smaller minority who'd consider using anything other than the OS which came with their computers... well, I'd expect them to be more inclined towards Linux than Windows!

So who were the intended audience of this ad? What was its real purpose? Mere consciousness-raising – as if anyone watching the film was unaware of Microsoft? I'm puzzled.


It struck me that it was all about trying to get people to do more with their boxes, rather than selling more copies of XP. It was about trying to position XP as the natural tool for media creation (I have no idea what authoring software comes with it either), and trying to add a little cool (do the kids still say that?) to the brand.

I thought it was about trying to lever into the home-media-centre-thingy market.

Using that girl, was them saying "She's cool, she's reacting to being ditched by being very modern and independent - and really, Microsoft's a little bit like that. Our OS would sit nicely in your home"

Had she actually been cool, rather than the airheaded wannabe that she came across as, she would already have a Mac.

(Well, you asked for it :p)

Posted by Siobhan Curran at June 27, 2005 08:18 PM

Music authoring/recording: erm... sound recorder? :)

It does do CD burning though - Windows Media Player does it as does Windows Explorer. XP was the first Microsoft OS to include CD writing capabilities as standard.

Posted by Neil T. at June 27, 2005 10:17 PM

"a TV advert for a computer operating system? What's the point?"

You've obviously not watched much TV in North America. We get all sorts of ads for Windows. My guess would be that they're simply trying to put a friendly, hip face on their position of market dominance.

Posted by Jon. at June 27, 2005 10:57 PM

Siobhan & Jon: I suppose you're right; it was brand reinforcement rather than selling anything in particular.

Siobhan: It did occur to me that the stereotypical 'creative' would be using a Mac, and the advert would be unlikely to change that!

Neil: I did suspect WinXP would contain something that'd do those tasks (otherwise it'd be false advertising), but is it any good, or more to the point, good enough for the purposes claimed in the advert? Windows contains a graphics utility (MS Paint), but no-one in his/her right mind would use it!

Jon: No, never seen a fraction of a second of TV in N.America, nor much in the UK, either; OS ads could be commonplace, for all I know.
I suspect I've appeared on US TV, though. I was in Rockefeller Plaza, NYC, outside the NBC studio the night before the Presidential election, and a camera was pointing in my general direction. ;)

Posted by NRT at June 28, 2005 10:38 AM

"Windows contains a graphics utility (MS Paint), but no-one in his/her right mind would use it!"

NRT: Not quite true!:

Posted by dan at June 28, 2005 02:12 PM

I did specify " his/her right mind..."!

Five hundred hours, to prove a point. Oh dear....

Posted by NRT at June 28, 2005 02:18 PM
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