Windows-branded computers on TV. Entering a new market or product placement fail?


Lately I've been noticing a lot of television shows that used computers with a Windows logo on their back. Classic product placement, where advertising blends with an event, movie or a TV show. The master of product placement in the mentioned segment is currently Apple, who also has suitable products for most occasions – beautiful and recognizable laptop and desktop computers. But Microsoft doesn't make computers at all. It does make some hardware (Xbox, Zune), but its focus is mostly on software (and lately on consumer electronics), so why the hell would they want to advertise something that doesn't even exist? Have they lost their mind or are they entering yet another market?

The past years have been hell for Microsoft. Bill Gates left, and current CEO Steve Ballmer sold a huge pile of shares a few weeks ago. Apple even managed to become more valuable than Microsoft, and Microsoft is obviously looking for different opportunities to stay in the game. Because I don't really believe they will start producing computers (tablets perhaps?), I can imagine these product placement efforts were created to gain lost ground on the OS market and targeted against Apple, but I think they could have come up with something more appropriate. In my opinion, Microsoft's greatest opportunity still lies in business environments (Office, SQL,, …), but while they're trying to focus on other segments, they are loosing that enterprise software market to other players such as Google.

Product placement in general makes sense for Microsoft, with Xbox, Windows 7, Windows Mobile 7, even Kinect and Surface as perfect candidates, because they look cool and Microsoft actually produces (or will produce) them. But advertising Windows computers, that's a bit ridiculous. Perhaps this type of marketing actually works on other target groups, but for more tech-savvy consumers such as myself, it looks desperate and fake, because we all know Microsoft doesn't even make computers. Worse, it looks like Microsoft is trying to position itself close to Apple (even the logo imitates Apple's), but doesn't stand a chance against the design perfection of a Mac. In the end, all this money spent perhaps made Apple look cooler and might have even helped them more than it helped Microsoft.

Microsoft should focus on the fields it masters and does best (or at least try to expose their know-how and advantages), because they have little chance to succeed competing on the markets that are dominated by other players (Apple in design, Google in search). And they should stop marketing fake branded computers, because they simply look silly. Perhaps this October campaign was a short experiment or even some sort of the ultimate innovative marketing strategy made by the greatest advertising agency in the world which I don't understand and appreciate, but I think it's actually quite ineffective and wrong. Or am I wrong?

Microsoft Product Placement: How I Met Your Mother

How I Met Your Mother: Season 6, Episode 4. Aired October 11th, 2010 on CBS.

Microsoft Product Placement: Lie To Me

Lie To Me: Season 3, Episode 2. Aired October 11th, 2010 on FOX.

Microsoft Product Placement: The Mentalist

The Mentalist: Season 3, Episode 5 (also other episodes). Aired October 21st, 2010 on CBS.

UPDATE (26.2.2011): Here are a few more shows doing it. It looks like it's a CBS and FOX thing.

Microsoft Product Placement: The Good Guys

The Good Guys: Season 1, Episode 15 (also other episodes). Aired October 29th, 2010 on FOX.

Microsoft Product Placement: Bones

Bones: Season 6, Episode 14. Aired February 17th, 2011 on FOX.

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written 24.11.2010 19:02 CET on chronolog
3081 views   •   7 comments  •   Like   •   
Ya i just noticed it on Liet to me and Gossip girls. i think is kind of cool and lame at the same time. But to think of it would be pretty cool to get 1
commented 12.8.2011 17:30 CET by kofighana
I am fully aware of Microsoft's domination of the PC market, but that wasn't actually my point. I got a few replies on reddit, and people agree with your comment and the fact that most users don't really distinguish between hardware and software. But the PC era is over and in my opinion, this type of advertising is not really helping Microsoft, it makes them look a bit funny and desperate, at least in the eyes of tech savvy people.
commented 28.2.2011 8:45 CET by Stritar
I think you are forgetting that Microsoft still holds 90% market share on in the desktop segment. I think they might now what they are doing. ;)
commented 26.2.2011 19:40 CET by blaze
i noticed this ages ago in smallville chloes whole watchtower is rammed full of these fakes its not just this october
commented 5.2.2011 15:26 CET by k
Wow albator, great observation, I didn't notice that. I still think Windows computers are lame, but this one is actually pretty smart...
commented 28.11.2010 19:12 CET by Stritar
about picture #2 I just noticed that cal lightman is lacking of inspiration to write his book through the whole episode using a Mac. And at the very last minute he opens his Pc and starts typing... great subliminal message...
commented 28.11.2010 16:52 CET by albator

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