OK, all jokes aside, Microsoft has been making a big push of it’s Internet Explorer browser as of late for no particular reason other than it can. While it’s running TV commercials here in the US aimed at convincing consumers that IE really is a better browser, over in Asia, it’s taking a different tack and given it a mascot instead.
The first question is, of course, why would Microsoft give one of the products a mascot? In any case, the campaign itself uses a feisty heroine in an anime-style commercial:
It’s not bad, eh? Almost makes you forget it’s all about a product that has long been the laughing stock of the internet too.
And that, in a sense, is what makes it so successful. It’s a commercial without overtly appearing to be one. OK, yes, she does sport a Windows logo on her butt, but aside from that, it’s easy to accept the character and the dilemma she’s in.
This IE commercial uses plenty of action and adventure combined with a distinctly curious character to draw the viewer in. Only once they’re hooked do they get the actual message. That’s what makes it so good. It isn’t blatantly obvious until it needs to be.
Animated mascots and characters unfortunately tend to suffer from a rash of bad examples and poorly thought-out ideas. We’ve all see the low-quality commercials on TV for business who attempt to be clever with an animated commercial and have been instantly turned off. The reason is the belief that the value is simply in the look or message the mascot/character has to convey.
That’s not true. The value of an animated mascot is in the character itself. Why is the Trix rabbit trying to get it at all? How will he try to get it this time? Those are the kinds of questions that instil curiosity in the consumer that makes them watch.
The character in this video, Inori, has just about two minutes to become established, explain her dilemma and convey her message. That’s a tough proposition and it’s partly why commercials are so hard to do in the first place and why there are so many poor examples out there.
So why did Microsoft decide to use her as a mascot? Well in addition to the time constraint, advertising is an extremely tough business. Selling things isn’t like it was during the Mad Men era. Consumers these days are cynical, have short attention spans and are over-exposed to commercials to the point that they become oblivious to them. Hence the current fad of innovative and gimmicky marketing tricks via social media and other platforms.
Which makes this video stand out even more; it’s so traditional! There are no gimmicks or attempt to go viral besides being posted on YouTube. It’s just really well-made and entertaining! It’ll also live on long after it’s intended purpose too. Don’t deny it, you’ve looked up old commercials on the internet!
Microsoft clearly saw the value in this from both a goodwill perspective (it all began as fanart) and with their considerable financial resources, saw fit to create a really entertaining and memorable character.