Friday, December 11, 2009

Marketing to men (by Suzie)

Although I have a Mac, I dislike the ads portraying it as a young, handsome, hip dude vs. the older unhip PC guy that runs Windows. I prefer the Windows ads with real people; at least they include women as more than people to be wooed.

Whenever I see a great ad, especially for a large corporation, I remind myself that the same company may have some execrable ad, like the one that aired last Friday during “Dollhouse.” Microsoft played off the idea that the latest Windows is simplified, by giving a simplified version of the TV show: There are hot and sexy dolls! Fans vomited.

A male, feminist friend who works on PCs pointed out other bad ads, such as the one for Internet Explorer 8’s “privacy mode” for browsing. This allows people to keep private some of their favorite sites and some of the sites they’ve visited. This is less suspicious than erasing details of all the sites you’ve visited. It has been dubbed “porn mode,” and Safari (which I use) has had it for several years. Preston Gralla of Computerworld says
The ad features a squeaky-clean young married couple sitting at a kitchen table. The wife asks to use the husband's laptop, and when she does, she obviously sees some kind of grotesque porn on the screen, and begins vomiting, first on the floor, and then on her husband…

Microsoft says that it pulled the ad because some customers found it offensive. I'm sure that's true. But the entire controversy may well be a setup as a way to generate publicity --- the agency that created the ad and Microsoft may have known from the beginning they were stirring up trouble with the ad, and planned to pull it from the moment the ad was created.
It’s an interesting marketing ploy: Kill an offensive ad after it gets publicity, knowing that it will continue to exist on the Internet, and the controversy will drive up viewership. This is similar to making an offensive ad that runs only in a foreign country, knowing it will get back to the U.S. market. An example is the Burger King ad of the big sandwich heading toward the mouth of a wide-eyed woman.

(I usually write posts ahead of time. Just after I scheduled this one, I saw Echidne's post on another offensive BK ad in another country.)

For more sexist fun, watch NetworkWorld's slide show of vintage tech ads, courtesy of ITWorld. That’s where I got the ad above. And, no, I have no idea what the ad is about.