Drinking the Kool Aid – The Bizarre Brilliance of Microsoft’s New Ad Campaign

Make sense to you? Probably not. Then again — is it really meant to?

No one is quite sure what to make of the newest Microsoft ads (phase 1 of a whopping $300 million roll-out) but it’s sure done one thing — getting people to talk about Microsoft WITHOUT talking about Vista.

(That’s what we’re doing now, right?)

Though some people are claiming that the Microsoft ad’s are the worst ads ever created, and plenty stare in blank puzzlement or leave nasty comments on behalf of frustrated Vista users or out of sheer spite, the point is that people are talking.

And if you believe the numbers culled from this NY Times article, at the end of it all, the discussion speaks in Microsoft’s favor.

The creative direction for this expensive, oddball endeavor is coming from viral video legends Crispin Porter + Bogusky, famous for BK’s Subservient Chicken website, VW’s wacky beat-boxing German and the more dubious Ask.com’s chicks with swords (not to mention being subject of an insightful — and hilarious — BusinessWeek article from 2006).

While word on the street is that Seinfeld is out, that move was supposedly part of the plan from the beginning and now, Microsoft says, the real ads begin.

What’s fascinating is that this campaign — what I’d dub an “anti advertisement” — is culling such big bucks from the behemoth software publisher, while in essence, it’s trying to replicate the viral marketing techniques that’s been devilishly effective for practically zilch by smaller companies (Will It Blend being a famous example).

In some ways, this feels to me to be the “Hollywood Approach” — e.g., you can make a movie with big bucks and every actor in the world, or you can do it on the cheap, with blood, sweat, tears and a lot of screwball ideas going into it. Are Microsoft’s efforts to market themselves as un-corporate a meatball sundae?

Maybe you find the ads hilarious, or maybe you find them contrived. Maybe it’s got your mind OFF your problems with Vista, or maybe you take the campaign as a stab in the back as a frustrated consumer. But the bottom line is that everybody’s talking about Microsoft, and everybody’s wondering what’s next.

Genius or insanity? Take your pick.