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Ad war: Gmail vs. Microsoft Office 365

I don’t have the capacity to care what email service you use. It’s basic stuff. As long as you can write and send a coherent message, the technology you use to get it done doesn’t matter. To the marketers at Gmail and Microsoft, however, your choice of email provider matters tremendously. And they’ve got dueling videos to win you over.

Google, of course, wants you to use Gmail. Here’s their ad making the case for it:

The ad directs visitors to www.emailintervention.com, which invites you to send your friends an automated email about Gmail, using language borrowed from the world of addiction recovery. The spot is narrated by a character named Dr. Richard Muscat, intervention specialist.

So it’s an intervention campaign. Hasn’t that been done? Yes, most recently by Sabra and Niaspan (video version here). Cracked.com did an intervention gag about MySpace a few years ago.

But it’s not too tired of an idea to work for Google fans. Gmail’s Twitter feed claims 100,000 “interventions” have already been staged.

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Meanwhile, Microsoft is trying to get business customers to use its own cloud-based enterprise software. It produced an internal Gmail-bashing video designed to psych up its salespeople at a recent conference. (Credit here to ZDNet reporter Mary Jo Foley, who got the word out about this video.)

In the video, Microsoft seeks to remind the public that Google, at its core, is an advertising company. Microsoft introduces a character named Gmail Man—a nosy mailman who reads the mail!—to illustrate how Google is data-mining your email to decide which ads to serve you.

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I think both these efforts feel light, cheap and fast. They aren’t especially sharp or memorable. They’re peddling an old service that’s become such a commodity nobody will pay a cent for it. And above all, both companies sound unbelievably arrogant. After watching both spots, I feel like I’m being lectured at by nerds. It’s like when someone tries a little too hard to convince you to watch a movie they like. I don’t really care for either of these videos.

Microsoft has a special problem, in that most people have no idea what differentiates their various email brands. Quick, name your favorite Microsoft email product: Hotmail? Live Mail? Outlook? Outlook Express? Exchange? Entourage? Office 365? No idea.

That said, I think the creepy Gmail Man is deeply unsettling and on the mark. Point Microsoft.

Who’s responsible for these campaigns?

Both were produced in-house.

— By Daryl Lang. Filed under Technology

One comment

  1. Daryl Lang says:

    P.S. – I don’t know if you see the same ads I do on this post, but the banners that just loaded for me are for drug treatment centers. These are contextual ads served by Google Adsense — which must think this post is about actual interventions. This is the very same problem described in Microsoft’s Gmail Man ad!

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