Monday, September 15, 2008

Off-Web Webcast

When is a webcast not a webcast? Webcasts - whether videos, interactive presentations, or some other form of multimedia - are usually available to anyone with an Internet connection. They are typically “free” as long as the viewer is willing to fill out a registration form. Even though “free”, the challenge is usually to attract an audience, not mention retaining them for the length of the webcast.

Novelist Philip Roth will discuss his latest book, Indignation, in a webcast this week (7 pm, EDT, Tuesday September 16th). In my opinion, Mr. Roth is a considerable talker as well as writer, so this should be worth viewing. Yet you won’t be able to watch from your home or office computer. The event is a virtual book tour, which will take place simultaneously on the books publication date. This web cast will be private and can only be seen in fifty book stores around the country. The online world and virtual book stores, most noticeably are not on the tour.

As with, for example, in store parties for the latest release of Harry Potter, this is an attempt to make the real world more interesting than the virtual and substitute the community of a live audience (ironically for a virtual event) for the community of a social network.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Why the Sour Face Gerry?

Microsoft’s new $300 million campaign will be hard to miss. Don’t watch much TV, the ads will be on the net. You can catch them on web properties of MSN as well as YouTube.

The commercials star Gerry Seinfeld and Bill Gates. As such they are newsworthy and get far more exposure than Microsoft has paid for. So far so good, but what is the message, the positioning or even the emotion Microsoft is trying to convey?

As humor, the spot is uneven. Some the dialog such as the parking lot scene where Gerry gushes a bit too reverently about mind melding of Gates’ “Jupiter sized brain” goes nowhere. In contrast to his campaign for American Express, Seinfeld seems a bit out of form.

Microsoft has long been identified with Gates, but the commercials come just as he is leaving active management of the company. Possibly it is an attempt to humanize Microsoft, often referred to by competitors and customers alike as “the evil empire”. The richest man in America is just as cheap as the rest of us, who buy shoes at a mall outlet.

Are you felling better about the Microsoft brand already?