Microsoft once paid the Rolling Stones millions for the use of “Start Me Up” to inject some excitement into their campaign for a new operating system. Scott G tells why MS better buy the rights to a whole bunch of rock, electronic, country and hip hop songs because the launch of their Vista OS is currently dead in the water.

I use Microsoft products. I dislike them as much as the next person, but I use them.

Most of my clients work for companies run by bean-counters, and it is well-documented that people who use spreadsheets for a living are not comfortable with Apple products’ sleek design, intuitive efficiency and facility for creativity. Or the fact that they cost more than PCs.

G-Man at the MicWhich means that most clients use PCs. Which means I always have at least a few PCs in my studio. While I rely on Macs for music creation, I use PCs to create the words and ideas for advertising and marketing.

But that doesn’t mean I have to like MS or its wasteful, bloated, and buggy software. Many users of MS products feel the same way.

So when MS launched its five hundred million dollar ad campaign for their long-delayed Vista operating system, I was prepared for some real razzle-dazzle in the advertising. Like when they licensed the Rolling Stones’ “Start Me Up.” Well, they better start licensing every hard-thumping high-adrenaline song they can find because the current Vista campaign seems to have embraced lunacy as a strategy.

Sixty Seconds of “WTF?”
The new commercial features superb location scouting, superior cinematography, effective acting, seamless special effects, outstanding sound, sleek editing, and impressive direction. Yes, the production company can be proud. But the committee that wrote the spot should be shot.

Here’s what appears in the commercial:

* A nostalgic sequence capturing the awe most Americans felt as the U.S. entered the space race.

* A vignette showing soccer players influencing young TV viewers around the world.

* A man encountering a deer outside his suburban home.

* The Berlin wall comes down.

* A little boy marvels at seeing his first snowfall.

* A little boy displays good basketball dribbling skills.

* A little boy impresses a little girl at a wedding reception by pulling a tablecloth out from under the dishes.

* A woman jogger achieves her personal best.

In each case, someone in the scene says “Wow.”

For the final sequence, there is a voiceover: “Every so often, you experience something so new, so delightfully unexpected, there’s only one word for it.”

* A man looks at a computer screen and sees 4-year-old Mac technology, presumably on a PC equipped with Vista. For some unexplained reason, he also says, “Wow.”

The Sound of One Hand Clapping
Okay. While I don’t think sporting events are as much of a “wow” as the space race, I understand that all of these moments can be emotionally satisfying. But in the spot, they lead up to a big let-down.

Ultimately, the commercial says, “Hey, remember some good things? Well, our product could perhaps maybe in some teeny-tiny way be kinda-sorta thought of a little like that, if you had never seen how a Mac worked during the past half-decade.”

I don’t know if Vista is a good product (less than a week after its official unveiling, a Google search of “Vista bugs” brought up only a quarter of a million listings, and at least one television news commentator suggested that installing Vista is so difficult that the best way to get it is to buy a new computer with the OS already inside) but the spot is just well-produced hogwash.

Because if this commercial is to be believed, Vista is not “now.” And it’s certainly not “wow.” In fact, the complete statement from that man viewing the PC screen might well have been, “Wow, this is incredibly lame.” And correct me if I’m wrong, but that is not the reaction you’d like from your expensive marketing efforts.

[tags]G-Man, Gman, gman marketing, Scott G, Communication Nation, advertising, marketing, ad rants, Microsoft[/tags]