Honest Marketing • 31 March 2008 • The SnowBlog

Honest Marketing


oh really?

I have a love/hate relationship with marketing. I love the ju-jitsu effortlessness of good marketing. The way exactly the right combination of words and images can connect powerfully with people. But I hate the way marketing departments wreck otherwise good products. How so? Well, no matter how good a product is, marketing departments see it as their job to raise expectations even higher. They wouldn't feel like they'd played their part if customers weren't expecting more than they got. Which is why all of us are skeptical about marketing. Which is why marketeers have to make explosively mind-shattering claims in order to attract our jaded attention. A particularly short-sighted twist on this phenomenon occurred during the launch of Windows Vista. The ensuing court case is dragging lots of sordid details into the light. Have a look here for more detail, but the gist is that new operating systems are a great opportunity to sell new hardware. You can only run the shiny new versions of things if you upgrade. All very mundane and despicable - as far as it goes - but why not take it a step further? Why not use a new operating system as a way to get people to upgrade to... old hardware? That's to say, stick a badge on a sluggish mid-range machine saying that it's 'Vista Ready' then people will buy it in order to have the run the new version of Windows with the glittery visual effects (and not much else besides). No one seemed to think this through and realise that persuading people to buy underpowered hardware would make Vista seem like a dog. Which it did. And then people realised that 'Vista Ready' was a con and the whole thing ended up in court. When you think of the effort and the billions of dollars that went into making something that just seemed like a slower version of Windows XP, with some prettier visuals - and then the effort that went in to persuading people to buy a machine that would be brought to a standstill by those same visuals - it's all a giant exercise in value destruction. Not to mention another nail in the coffin of honest marketing. What's next? Machines with 'Intel Inside' stickers that don't have Intel Inside? Anyway, I'm glad there's a court case going on, because my dad - who normally checks his computer buying decisions with me - bought one of those machines and wanted me to fix it so that it didn't take twenty minutes to start up. I've tried a couple of things - like turning off all of Vista's pretty visuals and tripling the memory installed. But I'm expecting eventually that I'll need my secret weapon: a copy of Windows 2000 for it to run instead. Then it will really start to fly.


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