WIth Enough Money To Purchase a Moderate Sized Country, You’d Think…

More idle, internet-less ramblings while sitting on the plane…

Anyhow, I’ve flipped through a bunch of magazines lately. One thing I like to do is look at the use of visuals in communicating a message, especially advertisements. Long long ago, when I taught a computer animation class (we were using Director 5.0 if that gives a time frame), I asked my students on a regular basis to clips ads for a notebook. I asked them to analyze the ads for use of graphic elements such as colors, fonts, perspective, layering, lines, balance of text, tone of message, use of metaphor, clarity of message, etc. Even in animation, it helps to have a grasp of the effective (or non effective) use of visuals to say somemthing and that is what ads need to do.

Now I really no nothing about advertising, so you can dismiss this opinion right away, but I am utterly amazed that a company such as Microsoft, which likely has enough cash to buy Belgium or maybe put a good down payment on Switzerland, has some of the lamest, dull, poorly executed print ads. It seems to me that the marketing seems to being done by geeks or former geeks, and not anyone with persuasive communication sense. I do not see art or design here. I see geek people.

First there’s the MS Office ones where people in an “office” adorned with dinosaur heads are lamenting their software. It is supposed to be some coy persuasive message about upgrading or “evolving” to the newest version. But what does it say if you are someone who’s office is for whatever reason, still using Word 97? Are you destined for a meeting with a meteor? Are you inferior? Should you be walking around with a giant stegosaurus mask? Does this really want to make up run out and buy new software? I have never really get a grasp on the message here, and it seems to never have gone past someone in a brainstorming meeting saying, “Wouldn’t it be funny to see a bunch of saps wearing dinosaur masks?” They ridicule the users of their product. I’d prefer allying with the small mammals scurrying around the floor of the office cause these dino dudes are doomed.

Then there are the ones about MS Security being all jujitsu strength stuff. The image shows two dudes in an office setting with a row of Security volumes, and some big warning sticker on the cubicle. Look again at your heroes– two white guys, both in collared button down shirts and chinos, and rigid straight backs. You can tell without looking at the logo that they do not work at the Googleplex. Are they über dudes or what? Don’t the remind you of the IT guys who decide on their own to change the web server settings or implement some new security tool without letting anyone else know, and are all taken aback when people start questing them about the system going south? Do Todd and Bob in the ad make you really desire their security skills?

Okay, this is just my opinion, or I am just not liking the advertiser… I am sure the folks in Redmond do all kinds of testing and analyzing to communicate their message. But as ads, the messages are awfully contrived (to me). What do you think? It is all personal opinion, after all, though my opinion here matters since it is my house.

Maybe I should not write anything. They certainly have their market cornered, and having some slick, compelling ads would only make them bigger and hogging more of the corner. SO keep the lame ads coming. I might have a few more plane trips and need some thing to distract me.

Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.