Wednesday, October 24, 2007

simile: how vista is (not) like a candy store

An individual commenting to Rupert Goodwins' rambling (but ultimately interesting) article Vista versus The Gutsy Gibbon - Ubuntu 7.10 has raised the bar for all of us when it comes to picking apart bad marketing metaphors similes. Here's what he wrote:

Microsoft's now promoting Vista with a campaign called "100 reasons why everyone's so speechless (about Vista)". (MSFT source link)

I looked. #23 is "Because it's like a digital candy store."

Puh-leeze. Bring up the Adept Manager in Ubuntu. Now _that's_ a digital candy store. Over 20000 applications for doing almost anything you can imagine, and quite a few things you can't. Running Vista is like being in a candy store that only sells black liquorice (I _hate_ black liquorice) at exorbitant prices. Oh, and you're only allowed to eat the candy in the store. Plus each individual piece is really small and is wrapped in seven layers of cellophane, and the store won't let you throw the wrappers away. You have to take them with you and throw them away at home. Plus they set off a grenade in the chocolate store across the street in the middle of the night and mugged the proprietors of the penny candy stand. Oh, and Microsoft are the ones behind the urban legend that red M&Ms cause cancer. That's the kind of candy store Vista is.

Ouch. In case you're wondering what it is that some fine product marketing person at MSFT wrote that stimulated this, it's the following:

#23. Because it's like a digital candy store.

You choose the fun—TV, games, music, movies, home videos, or photo slide shows—Windows Vista has all of your entertainment in one convenient place. Enjoy it on your PC, or gather friends and family around your home entertainment center, and let the good times roll!

Is it just me who doesn't fall for this sort of thing anymore? Does letting stuff like this on the street do more harm than good?

I think so. Product managers beware - there is a thin-ish line between harmless hucksterism and damaging hyperbole, and you need to be aware when that line is crossed. Because you will pay the price if marketing sets expectations for your product that can't (or for design reasons won't) be met.

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