This week, Microsoft launched a new campaign for Office 2010 to the tune of $80 million. The problem – and its a problem with Microsoft in general – is that its advertising is not meant to steal market share. Rather, it is intended to get people who already use Microsoft products to switch…to another one of its products.

Microsoft is hurting in the office arena and are hoping that this new Office version will bolster its sagging sales. Business spending has been slow to recover out of the recession, hitting  Microsoft Office especially hard. Microsoft Office sales are down 3% year over year as consumers are using what they already have or moving to web apps from companies like Google. That is ironic considering one of the features of Office 2010 is its ability to be used on the Web from “virtually anywhere” (as long as you have Microsoft SharePoint or Windows Live SkyDrive).

So what Microsoft hopes to do with its advertising is to convince you that Office 2010 is better that your older version of Office because it can do more and let you share more stuff on the Web. Funny, I know of some pretty large companies who still have older versions of Office as the corporate standard because the older one “works just fine.”  The new ads feature a continuation of sorts from the Windows 7 “people” themes in which users show what the new version of Office can do.

The real problem is that, not only is Microsoft’s latest campaign designed not to steal market share, it does not stop those leaving Office from continuing to move. It is simply to get people to stop using a previous version and use 2010. Unfortunately, this is just another example of asking an ad agency (JWT in this case) to provide a solution to the wrong problem.

Companies are constantly spending enormous amounts of money to get their messages out – whether or not the message is important. Organizations are relying on agencies to provide great creative for their latest product, service, promotion or awareness campaign when the messaging is centered around product benefits.

Those agencies cannot do their best work if they cannot address the right questions that can only be answered with a deep understanding of your users and, more importantly non-users, and how they define themselves in terms of their self reflection and aspirations. That’s what steals market share. Not “updated” product benefits.

Share This