Microsoft ActivePromo Campaign

Fake News written by James Baughn on Tuesday, February 9, 1999

from the bloated-software-and-bloated-marketing-campaigns dept.

Numerous news outlets broke the story yesterday that Microsoft plans to "reorganize" into four different departments -- Software, Marketing, Legal Defense, and Knowledge Workers & Oxymorons. In addition, Humorix has learned that Microsoft's PR masterminds are planning a massive marketing campaign, code-named "ActivePromo 2000", to go along with the reorganization. Promotions planned include "Frequent Upgrade Points", "Match Vaporware & Win!", "What Slogan Do You Want to See Tommorrow?", and more.

Presumably, the ActivePromo campaign is designed to fill the vacuum left by the lack of any new Windows versions this year, in addition to providing some much needed damage control after all the foot-shooting in the anti-trust trial recently.

One pundit told Humorix, "Microsoft spin doctors could argue that this PR campaign is yet another 'obvious sign' that Microsoft doesn't hold a monopoly. If Microsoft has a monopoly, they might argue, then Microsoft wouldn't have to spend any money on marketing. But with 'fierce competition' from Linux and others, Microsoft has to be paranoid to maintain its market leading position. Of course, this is all hype and hyperbole, but some of the flunkies over at Ziff-Davis and ABCNews.com might actually buy into it."

Some of the promotions on the drawing board for the coming months and years, according to several anonymous sources, include:

"Frequent Upgrade Points"

Supplicants Consumers who purchase upgrades to Windows, Office, or other Microsoft "solutions" will receive "frequent upgrade points" (FUPs) when they register online. These points, like Frequent Flyer Miles, can be redeemed in the future for discounts on other Microsoft upgrades. This program, combined with the fact that older versions of some Microsoft programs have glaring Y2K problems, should be enough to convince many people to shell out big bucks to upgrade to a more bloated modern version. Microsoft hopes to eradicate 99% of Windows 3.x installations by 2003.

"Match Vaporware & Win!"

Microsoft will team up with a major fast-food chain (McDonalds, probably, since it has the largest market share, but Burger King is another possibility) for a special Windows 2000 promotion (in late 2001?). With every combo meal purchase, the customer will receive a game token containing a date on it. If the official release of Windows 2000 is on that date, the customer can redeem the token for a variety of prizes -- ranging from a lifetime supply of Windows upgrades, to 25,000 shares of Microsoft stock.

"What Slogan Do You Want to See Tommorrow?"

Children under age 16 will have to opportunity to create their own Microsoft slogan to replace the aging "Where Do You Want to Go Today?"® motto. Microsoft will set up a special email alias where children can submit their entries along with detailed personal and demographic information (for verification purposes, of course). A panel of Microsoft employees will select a winning entry, which will become the official slogan. The winner and his/her family will receive an all-expense paid week-long vacation to Redmond, WA ("The Vacation Capital of East Central Washington State"), including a guided tour of the Microsoft campus and a personal ten minute photo-opportunity with Chairman Bill.

We personally believe that "Don't Think About Going Anywhere Else Today" would make a perfect Microsoft slogan. "Crashes Are Normal" might also be a good choice.

"Windows Competitive Upgrade Offer"

Users of non-Microsoft operating systems (Linux in particular) will be given the opportunity to trade-in their present OS for a free copy of Windows 98 (or NT 4.0) and Office 97. People (all three of them) who wish to participate in this program will have to:

  • Mail their operating system's floppy disks or CD-ROMs to Microsoft
  • Agree to a two year contract with the Microsoft Network.
  • Agree (in writing) to the Competitive Upgrade License Agreement; one of the terms of which is that the user may not install, copy, or otherwise use a non-Microsoft OS for five years.

"State Innovation Day"

Microsoft has successfully lobbied for the State of Washington to declare August 24th as State Innovation Day. Efforts are underway to lobby the US Congress to decree a similar designation nationally. Several events are scheduled on August 24, 1999 to showcase "innovation" in the computer industry (in other words, Microsoft), including:

  • An "Innovation Day Parade" held in downtown Seattle, featuring floats and helium-filled balloons representing various Microsoft products (Dancing Paper Clip, Microsoft Bob, Flying Windows Logo, IE's Animated 'e' Throbber, etc.).
  • An "Innovation is Cool" essay contest for high school and college students. Possible topics include "Why IE Should Be Integrated in Windows 98", "How Windows Has Improved My Grades", "Why Bill Gates Is My Hero", "Why I Think Anti-Trust Laws Are Obsolete", "Government Intervention is Evil", and "Why Monopolies Improve Product Quality and Lower Prices".
  • A 24-hour "Innovation in Education" telethon on NBC to raise money for school districts nationwide to buy new Wintel computer systems and Internet access through the Microsoft Network. Contributors will receive complementary Microsoft T-shirts and Internet Explorer CD-ROMs.

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