If Microsoft’s latest ad campaign goes well, the old image many people have of the company might be in for a change. The existing image of the company’s typical customer, made even more popular by Apple’s Mac vs PC TV ad campaigns, is that of someone on a work computer. Now that the Redmond WA software giant is ramping up its Windows 8 operating system for launch this year, it has launched a new ad campaign in an effort to give its brand image a facelift.
The company’s recent deal with Barnes & Noble, and its emphasis on the education market, could help Microsoft target the expanding college market for digital textbooks. This fits in quite well with the software giant’s new advertising strategy. The company is trying to repackage itself as “cool.” With the sleek Xbox entertainment console system and the sleek tiled design of Windows 8, it has the equipment to pull this off. The question is: will Microsoft succeed?
Its prospects look hopeful based on one factor: Windows 8. Windows 8 blends consumers’ experience of mobile devices and laptops. Indeed, the market is so curious regarding the new OS that Microsoft tweeted that over 1 million copies of Windows 8 Consumer preview within the first 24 hours of the beta’s availability. Additionally, Microsoft is buffing up the image of Internet Explorer. The company has been running ads touting the browser. The ad features a pulsing beat punctuated with very positive reviews regarding the browser’s beauty and simplicity. The ads attempted to turn a product that has been traditionally viewed by many consumers as having a low cool factor into a hot new product. The ad campaign even shows the software giant can poke fun at itself. A spot features a young guy undergoing therapy to stop his “addiction” of telling people to uninstall Internet Explorer. The campaign also features a complete website labeled “The Browser You Loved to Hate.” The site’s main navigation tabs piques readers’ curiosity and claims that the Internet Explorer is “good now” and follows up with “No, really.”
It looks like the advertising campaign is working since Internet Explorer just reversed a year of declining usage numbers. The browser’s market share is beginning to inch up again. It went up from 53.83 percent to 52.84 percent. This gain came at the expense of its rivals Safari, Chrome, and Firefox. While these numbers are not exactly something to write home about, they are substantial solely for the reason that this is the first time the venerable Microsoft browser has picked up market share in a year. Previous to these numbers, the browser was under a lot of pressure from Chrome.
Microsoft’s cool ad campaign goes beyond IE. Its Bing ads underwent a facelift this year by hitching its cool factor to professional snowboarder Kevin Pearce. The idea being that Bing is a search engine that puts you in the middle of the action. This is quite a change of direction for the search engine’s image. Previously, it wanted to be branded as a “decision engine.” Now, it is shooting to be the search engine that does things faster. According to an interview with the engine’s advertising director, the new ads are aimed at targeting Generation Y consumers which range in age from 18 to 34. Sharing the Explorer’s recent change in fortune, Bing also shows an increase in market share. It is now at 15.3 percent. In March of 2011, it only had a 13.9 market share.