Microsoft Throws Back To The 90s

Slap bracelets, troll dolls, the video game “Oregon Trail”, LA Gear “light-up” sneakers…if you grew up in my generation, “Generation Y”, as they’ve called us (I was born in 1983), these staples of the 90s pique your memory, and strike a deep chord within you.

At least to me. Microsoft recently aired their latest ad for the “new” Internet Explorer on YouTube on January 23rd. I loved it. But not everyone did. Watch and decide for yourself…

For me, this is a total WIN. It’s about bonding with a generation on an emotional level. And the message is clear: “You started with us in the 90s; reconnect with us now.” Microsoft still explains the benefits of the product and establishes a sense of history in the brand, but all quite subtly. The key is the emotional trigger of nostalgia that keeps you watching.

But does everyone feel the same? To get a sampling, I emailed the video to some fellow Gen Y’ers, and also posted to Facebook. Some of the responses…

“It feels a little disingenuous – they haven’t really said anything about themselves, or how they’ve changed, but rather hope that by attaching themselves to random products they think this consumer is nostalgic for (and it feels like a broad assumption that just because certain items of the 90s are in vogue again, an entire generation wants to bring everything back), they will get back the credibility they once had. It’s almost as though someone on the marketing team said, ‘Hey, the 90s are back! Now’s our chance!'”. – Chanelle, Marketing Executive in New York

“I loved it, mainly for the mushroom cut and Oregon Trail. Elementary school was sweet! I also think it’s a cool approach. Nobody cares about Internet Explorer, and they know it, and are making a joke out of it.” – Caitlin, Education Professional in London

“I just want to say, “Oh! Shut up already!”. This ad doesn’t take me 10 years back, it doesn’t make me nostalgic and it doesn’t make me want to “reconnect” with the past: Explorer, Windows, or 56kb internet.  BUT, it surely makes me want to stick to Apple. At least they show brand coherence, and when they advertise to me, I don’t feel like they’re addressing a 25 year old dummy who will buy a new computer because he’s just seen a yo-yo on television. Apple is softer, and I like it soft.” – Louis, Marketing Executive in Paris

“Ads aren’t designed to explain products and describe new features. We’re too developed as consumers at this point. They’re designed to keep you watching so that, at the end, if you make it there (because only then is the product revealed), you are intrigued to learn more. I think the ad succeeds brilliantly in that respect. Will IE ever become relevant again in the world of Macs and Google? Who knows. In the meantime, they’ve created a piece of content that is clever and enjoyable that holds your interest throughout. Even that is a huge accomplishment in today’s world of attention-deficient consumers.” – Greg, Chef in New York

Listen, Microsoft knew what they were doing: employing emotional cues to bring you into their world, instead of bringing you in by telling you solely how great their product is.

And it worked for me — I’m a fan. Not saying I’m going to have an Apple bonfire in my backyard tonight. I love my iMac, iPhone, iPad and iPod. But I wholly applaud Microsoft for this campaign.

What do you think?

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