Business Week’s Rob Hof reported today on the possibility of Google acquiring Twitter. The speculation is “the two companies are considering working together on a real-time Google search engine.” Interesting, indeed, but what struck me here was when Rob mentions the public’s reaction to the deal:

A lot of bloggers seem relieved, their belief that Twitter would wither under Google surpassed only by their even firmer conviction that it would be even worse if Microsoft bought the company.

I am definitely a strong believer in Google’s products and their business. I am an even stronger believer in their potential down the road, so, while I do agree with the public response, the fact that a Microsoft acquisition is being used as the other, more extreme, alternative–one that would be even worse for Twitter–is a pretty strong signal of the current state of Mircosoft’s brand.  Especially for a company that was once THE tech company, THE “Google” of their time, I cannot think of many things worse than having my brand used in this way…”Well, at least it’s not Microsoft.” That’s not positive at all.  People use sentences like that when they say things like, “Well, at least it’s not Syphilis.”

I do think Microsoft is doing some good things to remedy the public’s perception of their brand, but this just proves how much work they have ahead of them.

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Not very many, I would imagine.  If you are eight years old and are up at 10:30pm on a Monday and you are watching reruns of Seinfeld on TBS, your parents are twits.  But, regardless of whether or not Seinfeld has become a secret obsession of eight year olds around the world, this spot struck me because of how dissimilar the spokesperson is to the apparent target demographic.

We all know Microsoft is smart and isn’t blind to the fact that very few eight year olds are up at this hour.  In these tough economic times, we have to believe they are not just paying for random time slots without care or measure.  No, the “8 year old PC” spot IS meant for me and I think the stealthiness of it is brilliant.

At first, however, the “I’m a PC and (fill in the blank)”  campaign did not impress me.  In fact, I really didn’t like it.  Maybe it was because Microsoft abrubtly pulled Crispin’s first series of the brand’s “face-lift” (featuring Gates and Seinfeld, which were, in my opinion, too smart for the masses/TV) and replaced them with the apparent “Plan B.”  Maybe I was just annoyed they didn’t decide to go with “I’m a PC” from the get-go.  Either way, the first spot of the campaign seemed like Microsoft was crying about how Apple was making fun of them (via I’m a PC and I’m a Mac), and, in a certain light, seemed like they were desperately trying to win over the youth/creative culture.  It was a little embarrassing to watch.

Looking back though, these spots were just the “growing pains.”  Microsoft and Crispin have worked out the kinks and have started to unleash an onslaught of spots that are truly relevant, substantive and engaging.  These are the kinds of messages that, I think, will help to humanize and, ultimately, revitalize the Microsoft brand.

As someone in his mid-20s, I am not exactly amazed at the PCs capabilities (which the eight year old clearly demonstrates), but I am amazed at the kid’s creative spirit and technical knowledge of, and comfort with, the machine.  I may be part of the current creative culture, but I wasn’t mixing and editing movies when I was eight–my creativity was limited to “analog.”  This kid represents the future youth/creative culture that even I can’t totally relate to…they are “The Rookies.”

Microsoft, realized they couldn’t fake their presence in the current creative culture, so they decided to attach themselves to the future.  Not only do these capable youngsters–with their bright futures and enthusiastic attitudes–make us smile and feel warm and fuzzy, they remind us, even though you and I may be Macs, the future youth demographic is still fair game and could end up putting Microsoft and the “PC” world back on top.