Why Google's Super Bowl ad works and proves Microsoft is the Jay Leno of tech
After about a 6 month blog hiatus due to a twitter-only sabbatical...I'm back...and naturally, I want to talk about the biggest marketing-pop culture collision out there --- the Super Bowl...and specifically, Google's Parisian Love.
The first thought for many is why would Google do a TV ad in the first place? As Ben Kunz tweeted, "I'm so glad Google informed the world tonight that you can search at google.com for information. Who knew?" And many noted, how this was a Google "Oh shit...we better do something" response to Microsoft's Bing advertising. The price of a Super Bowl ad to Google is like pulling lint out of our pocket for us normal folk....so it's not a matter of cost or a matter of awareness. It's a matter of pop-culture immersion.
According to BrandBowl (brought to you by Mullen and Radian6), Google's ad ranked #2 overall and number 1 in terms of positive sentiment. In 60 seconds, Google was able to tell a very simple story of Parisian Love via search. It's a story that can easily capture viewer's imagination, but it's also a future piece of co-creation. In 60 seconds, Google shows the Super Bowl audience that Google is a part of everyone daily life. Google is pop-culture.
In terms of co-creation, we can imagine numerous parodies that will just extend Google's story. Sure, there may be some negative imitations but Google's story can withstand the scrutiny. My personal favorite is Slate's, Is Tiger Feeling Lucky?
I then thought about Dick Brass's great Op-Ed piece about Microsoft in New York Times last week in combination with Jay Leno's appearance in the great Late Show SB Ad and his Jimmy Kimmel encounter. Jay Leno has an insatiable need to be liked. It's clear given how Letterman and Kimmel keep on hammering him but he takes it in a "Hey...I'm ok with this." He might be ok but can't he come up with some witty humor as well. The fact is he can't...Leno can no longer innovate. He left the Late Show with better ratings than Letterman, but he has not been funny since the 90's. He just has a series of unfunny knock offs that he continues just milks. When put into a new environment (a 10pm slot) he fails. If he has to change or innovate he fails.
Brass articulates that Microsoft is being left behind in the Innovation race due to company politics and internal organization. This can be clearly seen in the development of Xbox, the Zune and their recent advertising efforts with bing and Windows 7. The ads have water down messages for the masses, have a "been there seen that" feel and are clearly based on a traditional 90s media plan strategy. They don't really create stories that can be leverage online.
Just like Leno wants to be liked, Microsoft appears to have this insatiable needs to be liked by consumers. However, they'll never be loved by consumers...that's just not Microsoft's bag. Microsoft is a brand for developers, consumers really only use it since they don't really have any other choice. And just like Leno's Tonight Show ratings...Microsoft continues to make billions via Windows and Office, but they seem largely stuck in the 90s. Google looks to the future...Microsoft looks to the past. Nothing more proves this than the Seinfeld series of ads. You can say "future" in the ad, but everyone knows Seinfeld (and I love Seinfeld) says 90's....