Radiance Blog

Ad for Microsoft Office tools would have benefited from use of Microsoft Office tools

Marketing FAIL?  You decide.

Microsoft is running a print ad for Microsoft Office 2007, which proclaims, “Things have a way of piling up.  Here’s some tools to keep it all sorted.”

Every time I see this ad (primarily in my subscription to Newsweek), I cringe.  Seriously?!  “Here IS some TOOLS”?  As Microsoft’s grammar checker (hopefully), or your elementary school teacher, will tell you, if your noun is plural (e.g., tools) your verb form must be plural to match (i.e., are, not is).

Ok, so I may be a little more grammar-obsessed than the average person.  (Yes, I am a big fan of Lynne Truss’s book, Eats, Shoots & Leaves.)  But still, some percentage of people out there have been turned off by this ad (I ran across another mention on Twitter.)

Looking closer, I see that this ad is targeting moms.  It includes a snapshot of a woman sitting on a bed with one small child climbing on her shoulder while she buttons the shirt of a second child, and the dialog beneath the photo says “Office 2007 helps with lots of household tasks.  Sadly, changing diapers isn’t one of them.”  It goes on to describe the things Office 2007 will help you with: finances, school projects, greeting cards and resumes.

Do you want resume help from a company with this kind of grammatical difficulty?

Here’s what I think Microsoft is trying to communicate: we’re non-threatening; we’re helpful; we get how hard it is to be a mom.

But did they hit the mark?  Or did they sail a bit past and inadvertently insult the intelligence of moms everywhere?

My guess is that Microsoft skipped the ad testing before running this.  Sometimes, all it takes to avoid potentially offending your target audience is a little marketing research.



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