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A New Way to Get Skinned

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There has a lot of buzz around Microsoft’s Bill Gates-Jerry Seinfeld ads (and by buzz, I mean both positive and negative). Personally, I was buzzing on the negative side, because I didn’t think that Jerry Seinfeld was the best character for a PC. But I do like (very much actually) the new I’m a PC ads. And no, it’s not just because of Eva Longoria, Vera Wang, Pharrell Williams, or the other celebrities in there – although I am pretty impressed with the mix of everyday people and well-known personalities proclaiming their allegiance to the PC. No surprise, because I’m a PC myself. However what really caught my attention was the innovative use of online media and viral marketing tactics of the new I am PC ad campaign. Yesterday there was a homepage take-over of the MSN homepage – but it wasn’t just any ordinary take-over with a monopoly of all ad placements. It showed a new way to get skinned… The skin of the homepage was literally tiny little thumbnails of the “I’m a PC” video testimonials, and when the user rolls over one and clicks it to play, that particular video pops up into the very prominent box ad placement on the right.
But aside from encouraging users to interact with the skin/videos, there’s also another engaging component to this ad campaign: a landing page/mini-site that lets the user upload his or her own picture or video that lets them state what kind of PC they are and get a chance to see themselves in online ads – or in Times Square (!).

For attention-loving PC devotees (you know who you are), this is fun and memorable. (Yes, I submitted my own photo and caption.) Sure enough, something like this caught the attention of not just the “traditional” media (aka news and reporting) but also the online viral community (aka bloggers and members of bookmarking sites). Not only are the ads being forwarded around through YouTube, but the users are actually participating in the whole user-submission process. This is a great example of mashing together online media opportunities with social media distribution, and creating a solid branding campaign.

Of course there are still criticisms about the ads, but I think the whole ad campaign in general is fresh and interesting, and gives brand marketers new ideas. Imagine what an interactive skin can do for user engagement, and what a well-designed and content-rich landing page can do for brand affinity. Think about it, and see you at Times Square!

To show the world what you think a PC really looks like, click here.

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