The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

WOW: That’s Really Shit …
March 28, 2007, 8:03 am
Filed under: Comment

OK, so a few years ago I had the ‘experience’ of working with Coca-Cola in Atlanta – and boy, what an experience it was.

You see this is a brand with a severe chip on its shoulder … it cannot grasp that much of what it does is NOT the height of cool or that their massive sales are NOT a representation of having mass consumer adoration.

Don’t get me wrong – it’s an incredibly successful brand … but alot of that is to do with its monopolistic distribution rather than their advertising and communication.

And yet they continually fail – or choose to ignore – this point.

Personally I think it’s down to ego. 

You see in many countries, the bottling and manufacturing sides of Coca-Cola are completely separate entities … so for someone who works in Coke Marketing, it will be almost impossible for them to give any credit to the bottling side of the business because they may feel it undermines the importance of what they actually do.

Hang on … there is a point to all this.

Anyway, I used to go to meeting after meeting at Coke HQ and almost always hear the same thing being spouted by some little-experienced, myopic, consumer-ignorant, brand-blinkered brand manager.

“We want work that reflects the size and stature of the Coke brand, something with the WOW FACTOR!”

And every single time, I would ask the same question,

“Can you tell me what a WOW FACTOR actually is?”

To which I’d be met with either sneers, an arrogant laugh or some fake coughing – followed by a myriad of overly-complex descriptions of what this mythical ‘WOW FACTOR’ was.

The funny thing was that they’d go on and on and on about wanting to impact culture – lead people to a happier place – and then, when it came to approving our ideas [including one that is possibly the best idea we’ve ever developed], they felt the only thing they needed to do was a television ad. Yeah, very WOW FACTOR eh!!

So why am I going on about this?

Well it’s because I hate these marketing-department-type-terms [ie: ‘WOW FACTOR’] because in the real world, they mean nothing.

Hell, in the 2 years I was worked with Coke, not once was there a unifed view of what this term meant, though it seemed to us it basically represented a ‘feeling’ that excited them – more often than not because it made Coke look good against Pepsi.

Anyway, this is not about Coke … I will have to save that for a day when cynic no longer work with them, ha … this is about fulfilling my promise to Rob Mortimer and writing about Microsoft and their astoundingly brilliant, creative pile-of-Vista-launch-shite, “WOW”.

What I love about Bill Gates company is that they have an almost magical ability to take stuff that is genuinely good, and fuck it up.

It doesn’t matter whether it’s Windows XP, XBox, Zune or now Vista … this is a brand that invites the Fuck Up Fairy to come and visit each and every time.

Take their new campaign …

Did you watch it?

So according to Microsoft, their Vista product gives you the same feeling as watching a rocket take off, discovering new lands, seeing the magnificence of nature … in short, it is the next Wonder Of The World.


OK … so I am sure Vista might make a few things more possible for us all, but the software doesn’t give the WOW FACTOR, it’s the content the software allows you to create that makes that happen. Another example of company ego coming to the fore.

Why don’t they go the whole hog and say, “Hey Earthlings, you should feel very lucky we decided to do make our Vista software because you are petty, insignificant ‘things’. Cough up a fortune and we – and only we – will put a little life into your sad, lonely lives. Without Microsoft Vista, you are nothing … nothing, do you here”.

People with outrageous salaries and reputations came up with this rubbish.

They will have been paid an absolute fortune to research, develop, test, re-research, redevelop, re-test concept after concept and then – somehow – come up with the most nonsensical, pointless ad campaign [possibly] in history.

I hope you are all pissed off.  I am … I mean, how come those fuckers can get paid millions to make a load of crap when I do it in my toilets for free each and everyday? Hell, the only WOW I have gotten from Microsoft, is, “WOW, another load a complete bollock advertising!”

If I was Gates [a man who I had started to actually respect given his charitable endeavours] I’d be pissed … because not only is this campaign unlikely to change consumers view of the Microsoft organisation [which IS important given they are broadening out into other areas of consumer electronics ] it also undermines his stance on helping the World’s poor because they are spending hundreds of millions on insipid, uninspired communication.

If Apple launched this campaign, it would still stink but because they have a history of liberating consumers creativity, we could probably just about mentally rationalise it … however when a brand like Microsoft does it, it almost acts as an ad to NOT associate with Microsoft – which as far as I can remember, is not a good thing.

This is corporate ego at its worst – giving no tangible reason why I should even want to find out more about Vista, let alone buy it … and so as far as I am concerned, the people behind it [both client and agency side] should be publically flogged till they swear on their families lives, NEVER to subject humanity to such mindless twaddle again. 

On the other hand, it does give Steve Jobs and Apple great material for their ads …


49 Comments so far
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Could you please not be so liberal with your “praise” of Coke and you know perfectly well why.

Comment by George

like i’ve said before, who uses the word factor as an identifier these days anyway, apart from care factor: zero?! so glad apple made those ads.. microsoft deserved it.

turned on the radio yesterday to hear a discussion on the lack of ‘big deal’ both for vista and ps3 and the lack of relevance of old school hype to consumers these days.

Comment by lauren

“the software doesn’t give the WOW FACTOR, it’s the content the software allows you to create that makes that happen.”

Spot on, Rob. That’s the strategy that could have given this OS some credibility from the beginning. Shame…

Comment by Age

I still don’t know if that would have worked Age given Apple’s dominance in the creativity creation field. Still, stranger things have happened and it would have to be better than this Wow shit. Even the fact they don’t use capital letters throughout bugs me. It’s sort of mini-Wow, which is at least is a bit closer to the truth.

Comment by George

if they wanted “wow”, they should have used jenna jameson, right age?

Comment by lauren

I’m sure they thought of it, but Adidas got in there first…

But hey, you won’t hear me complaining! WOW!

Comment by Age

OK George – sorry, I forget you still see them every week! Whoops.

Lauren, I think you raised a really interesting point as regards the growing reluctance of consumers to get ‘excited’ about stuff anymore.

Whilst it is not true of every product launch ‘event’, it is systematic of a society that has been sold too much ‘hype’ and too little substance including everything from music and film, to government and jobs.

And when you add in that fame is generally much ‘easier’ to achieve these days [you can now be famous for simply being famous – when in the past it was a byproduct of achieving something special] is it any wonder that any event being spouted as ‘the next big thing’ is met with certain amounts of consumer apathy – especially because in most cases, that ‘excitement’ will only be fleeting and not something that you feel is changing the way you look and live your life.

[Another byproduct of a society educated that there is always something new and better just around the corner]

Comment by Rob

and perhaps because we we’re now accustomed to being consumers and have become quite comfortable with new trends, products, upgrades, changes in fashion, etc – an event to launch something (especially if it’s pretty much an upgrade and not actually revolutionary in any way at all) is like jumping up and down shouting ‘yay! it’s wednesday!’: slightly cool, but mostly odd and unnecessary.

Comment by lauren

Who’s Jenna Jameson? Does she have the ‘wow factor’?

Comment by NP

Just read the ‘mainstream adland’ comments again.Apparently she does.

Comment by NP

The only time the word WOW will be used is when the IT-Director presents the invoice for the licence updates to the procurement director, closely followed by the word “fuck”.

We have been largely spared the WOW campaign here in Germany, even here in Munich, were Microsoft have their German HQ there has been very little noise around Vista. Maybe it has something to do with the German market, I’m not sure. Thinking about it there are very few places where you can buy a new computer and when you do it will have windows on it. Considering the cost of a new license I think most people will just wait a little and buy a new machine, and they will probably do this because of some OTHER application that is important to them and they feel the need to update it – and the system that runs it.

Maybe Microsoft know this. Maybe Vista, for all it’s posturing as OSX-light for the masses, Microsoft isn’t really interested in influencing the man on the street. Having sat down with our IT chap, I worked out that for the 160 man company that we are, a migration to Vista would cost somewhere in the region of 60.000 Euros, and Microsoft gets most of that.

So this raises the question, why did they do anything at all? And this is where I totally relate to the core of Rob’s rant. Someone, somewhere has just earned themselves a shit load of money coming up with this crap, and it is all wrong. There could have been any number of WOW things that could have been used, with “Promise” (it’ll work this time) the first one that springs to mind.

They make a product we use everyday, and we only really notice it when it fucks up. It’s like going into a bar and ordering a coke. You don’t want CokeTM, you want – A coke.

So maybe that’s why the always try to fuck up their ads. So we notice them.

Comment by Marcus Brown

I didnt think it was that bad, til the words came up.

“Syncronise your wow” makes me want to take a chainsaw to someones head. Thats quite frankly stunningly genius out of this world bollocks.

They just dont get it. Microsoft, get your Xbox team on Vista, they know how to help produce at least reasonable ads.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Are you proud of me Rob M for finally doing it?

Comment by Rob

if they’re not interested in relating to the man on the street marcus, why bother advertising then? we got bus shelter ads here, which screams ‘talking to the man on the street’. if they just wanted to focus on being an OS for orgs, they should have focused their launch on the IT/Accounts managers of the world and left the rest of use the fuck alone.

Comment by lauren

oops – us, not use.. i’m not that ocker!

Comment by lauren

Lauren – that’s my point. That’s the waste.

Comment by Marcus Brown

Yes, I am Rob. Once we hear your revenge tale all will be well in the world!

Absolutely Lauren. Why spend money talking to everybody in business speak? Even if they are targeting small businesses there are much better ways (and places/media) to do so.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Excellent points made, Rob M!

I am still trying to understand what “Syncronise your wow” means…

And yes, those Xbox ads were brilliant – especially the “Jump In” campaign with the water bombs. One of my favorite ads ever…

Comment by Age

Ta age
I also liked the banned guns one!

Comment by Rob Mortimer

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – too much communication is to fulfill the companies ego rather than actually to motivate a consumer change of attitude/action.

And it’s not just about executions … it’s also about media placement because there is little or no reason for DHL to advertise on outdoor billboards in shopping areas – but they do because they like the idea of being seen by their husbands/wives, even if the majority of consumers just pass it by as they would do dog shit.

Comment by Rob

Mortimer, you can synchronise my wow anytime.

Comment by NP

First I need a development team of buzzword geeks to tell me what it means…

Comment by Rob Mortimer

In that case Rob, can I point you to this site …

Comment by Rob


Now, revenge rant?

Comment by Rob Mortimer

On its way …

Comment by Rob


Comment by Rob Mortimer

I miss sausages.

Comment by Marcus Brown

Well, when I say ‘on its way’ … I mean the revenge will happen soon but the post may be abit longer.

Comment by Rob

Gah. I thought we were finally going to find out!

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Still miss sausages.

Comment by Marcus Brown


Comment by Marcus Brown

Well done.

Fantastich, sehr gut Marcus.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

hey marcus – yeah, i was kind of agreeing with you, but didn’t come across that way really. maybe i need to practice my emoticons too 🙂

Comment by lauren

I hate emoticons … they’re like having canned laughter on TV comedies … but in the interests of blogharmony, they will be encouraged.

Comment by Rob

I thought it was netiquette?

Comment by Rob Mortimer

That is the worst technopun I’ve seen in a long time Mr M.

Well done.

Comment by Rob

Yes, yes it is.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

😉 🙂

Comment by Marcus Brown

If Microsoft wrote Wow like this …

W:)W … I think I’d have to commit mass murder. I guess I should be grateful for little mercies.

Right bed … been a long, long night.

Comment by Rob

Bollocks, it didn’t work … does this …

W 🙂 W

Comment by Rob

Yeah … that’s the annoying version we should be happy they DIDN’T use.

Comment by Rob


Comment by Marcus Brown

ah, bugger. Well you know what I mean.

Comment by Marcus Brown

I think it’s this …

W 🙁 W

Comment by Rob

that’s it. I like that.

Comment by Marcus Brown

Maybe we should redo the ad, but instead of Wow, replace the captions with WTF?

“Syncronise your WTF?!”


Comment by Rob Mortimer

Now there’s an idea …

Of course I would be kissing goodbye to ever working with Microsoft, but then as far as I am concerned, that’s a little price to pay. ha!

Comment by Rob

Thing is, it makes just as much sense (I.e: none) that way!

Comment by Rob Mortimer

I can’t quite understand why everyone is so surprised about a crap ad from the folks who couldn’t even predict someday it would be the year 2000?

Comment by Hari

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