Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Vista is Spanish for View

Years ago in days of old, when Magic filled the air*, radio and television were dominated by single-sponsor programs. They had variety shows or serials that were "brought to you by" Maxwell House coffee or Chesterfield cigarettes. The shows' hosts and actors became shameless shills as they broke character to smoke a Chesterfield on camera or loudly slurp a cup of coffee over the airwaves, marveling at the rich, smooth taste of both.

Those days are back, minus the out and out shamelessless of those old endeavors.

It's a good advertising model, as anyone who watched Demetri Martin's show on Comedy Central last night can attest. You feel like you're getting a special on HBO or Showtime, except for the amusing if perplexing interruptions for clearification.com and the Institute for Advanced Personhood at ipa.org. Both are creations of Mekanism of San Francisco and McCann Erickson as they rolled out Windows Vista last night in a new/old way. The association with Vista became more apparent as the one-hour special moved along, but the slow reveal, as it were, made you appreciate both the concept, and the departure from the usual seven spots blaring at you in three and a half minutes.

The idea is, of course, Buzz. More importantly, blogger buzz and MySpace buzz and Web 2.0 buzz and viral buzz and social networking buzz. Buzz, buzz, buzz. And compared to the Steve Jobs Wizard in Black Turtleneck on Stage Before Drooling Fans Unveiling the New Product model, I'd take this one. Much more daring and risky.

Following Demetri Martin came the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, where the "detached pitchman" model was abandoned for what amounted to a hostile takeover by Microsoft of the last half of the show. Not only did the Bill Gates interview last a full fifteen minutes, but commercial bumps in and out were devoid of the mainstay Daily Show rocking theme, favoring a gentle soundtrack accompanied by the Vista logo animating over the Daily Show logo. When Bill comes back and is talking to Stewart, the Windows Vista signage and paraphernalia are everywhere, making you feel like you're at a trade show. Softball questions, little information, with basically a "come and see" pitch from the Billman, Stewart gamely playing along.

After the Colbert Report, it was an "encore presentation" of the Martin special. Martin, a veteran of The Daily Show, is a mix of Stephen Wright and CarrotTop, with a little vintage Steve Martin musicianship. The Martin Model is refreshing, as even the clearification.com site makes no mention of Vista. You can tell they're related, but he's not shoving it in our faces.

Not sure what Microsoft paid for total domination of a network last night, but it's an interesting (if old) idea that we will likely be seeing more of.

Did I fall into their sinister marketing trap by blogging about it? I guess I did. But it took me years to finally fork over the money for a legit copy of XP Pro. I'm not buying Vista anytime soon. I might "come and see" what the hype is about, but I'll likely wait about 4 years, after all the hacks have been fixed and the holes plugged.

And I had my suspicions comfirmed last night that Jon Stewart's writers steal material from this and other ramblings of mine. In the interview with Gates, Stewart asked, "So, when do we get our jetpacks?" But that's what social media is all about, I guess.

*Bonus points for this homage.

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  • "_____ your Wow"...
    "obey your Fast"...

    If McCann is gonna steal a shitty concept, they should at least come up with a little Wow thingie...maybe Gates with a mohawk.

    By Blogger copyranter, at January 30, 2007 at 3:56 PM  

  • You know, my sister told me to watch demetri martin, but it slipped my mind, and for some reason I didn't catch the Comedy Channel, so I appreciate the rundown because I barely noticed Vista's launch. The thing about avenues for advertising is that they can be invented but never destroyed. I think that's why I have this recurring dream where sponsorship and commercials and product placement and personally targeted outdoor and direct mail and text messages and smoke signals and oiga boards ad infinitum snowball until we shut down the Charles river.

    By Anonymous captain flummox, at February 1, 2007 at 10:37 PM  

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