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Microsoft's Windows 7 Launch 'Party': Pass the Cringe

Oops, they did it again.

Microsoft is back at it with another attempt at a campy viral campaign — this time to promote its Windows 7 operating system, due out on Oct. 22.

Microsoft Windows party
Source: YouTube
Microsoft Windows party

You might recall their misguided attempts at camp with the tone-deaf “Songsmith” campaign and definitely not spongeworthy Jerry Seinfeld-Bill Gates commercial.

And, there was that Working Girl-meets-Cyndi Lauper video they did in the 80s to promote Windows 386. (Oh yeah, this string of poor taste goes waaaay back.)

The idea behind this latest promotional blunder is to recruit everyday people to host Windows 7 launch parties(think Tupperware or Super Bowl party) at their homes to share the product with their friends.

They hired a marketing firm called House Party, which has organized similar house-party campaigns for Ford, Canon and Martha Stewart, among others.

House parties are a brilliant marketing tool for Barbie dollsor avocado dip— both clients of House Party — especially during a weak economy because everyone involved is basically spreading the word about your product for free. All you have to do is offer a couple of free coupons or some free Tupperware.

But you just knew that once they put the Microsoft geeks in charge of the “party,” that it wouldn’t be a 10-kegger and before long, we’d all be putting lampshades over our heads.

Microsoft rolled out a YouTube videoto demonstrate what a Windows 7 "house party" might look like. It features a demographically-correct cast of actors: The hipster white guy, the athletic black guy, the hot blonde and the older woman.

Standing around the kitchen, they smarmily chat about their own parties and offer tips for hosting a Windows 7 party. They toss their heads back and smugly laugh at each other’s comments with that I-could-kill-you-with-this-cheese-knife look on their faces.

You keep hoping, searching desperately in the 6-minute, 14-second clip for some relief: A joke. A mass murder. Porn. SOMETHING.

But it never comes.

“I’m beginning to think that no one involved with Microsoft’s advertising has ever left the house or spoken to a real person,” Ian Douglas, a tech blogger for the Web site of London's Daily Telegraph newspaper, wrote of Microsoft's latest marketing mishap.

Washington Post tech blogger Rob Pegoraro noted that comedy was “an uninvited guest” at Microsoft’s sample house party.

The whole thing is pretty surreal. About the only real moment was when, in a nod to Microsoft's patch-y past, hipster white guy advises party hosts to “Play with Windows 7 before the party.”

“I’m having a Blue Screen of Death party,” one Gawker reader quipped.

Others expressed thanks that Microsoft isn't responsible for anything that actually involves life and death.

To quote Minneapolis Star Tribune columnist James Lileks, one Washington Post reader wrote: "If Microsoft had been put in charge of marketing sex, the human race would have ended long ago, because no one would be caught dead doing something that uncool."

Yeah, I'd probably leave that campaign to Apple .

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  • Cindy Perman is a writer at CNBC.com, covering jobs, real estate, retirement and personal finance.

  • Based in Los Angeles, Jane Wells is a CNBC business news reporter and also writes the Funny Business blog for CNBC.com.

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