Comments on

Office Training Again

Original entry posted: Thu Apr 17 16:54:41 2008

1208813956 @ EST

Mon Apr 21 17:39:16 2008Ah, but there is where I think you're wrong. The most antisocial coder might not like that video---some of the hardcore coders I know just don't like music, which I find incredibly creepy---but I can easily picture people in corporate looking at it and saying "That looks great! The song's catchy *and* on message, and I love that we got Dave in there playing tambourine!"

I've been an in-house video director at a fairly major company, and I was constantly horrified at what people thought looked good. It was bad enough when things got approved because they had some sales-team in-joke, but even worse was how often terrible, terrible videos got made because some sales person with no video experience insisted on making creative decisions way above their pay grade, living the miserable peons on the creative side with the grim task of following their instructions to the letter, and producing hideous crap.

This video is incredibly cheesy, but it's professionally lit and shot, and is (relentlessly) on message in the text. So the stuff managers would care about is totally covered (even covered above and beyond, as I suspect they wouldn't notice if it looked worse), which the only thing really wrong with it is something that's a question of taste---and we established long ago that MS management is short in that department. So I have no problem at all believing that people at Microsoft thought this looked good, and that those people had the authority to overrule the very competent, increasingly despairing people on the creative marketing side.

That Fuzzy Bastard @ Sat Apr 19 10:46:03 2008 EST

Wait---it was a spoof? Really? Are you sure? I mean, I always thought the secret to MS's success was their flawless ability to share the taste of a pea-brained middle manager---that is, their base. If they're actually pulling some, like, irony stuff, then it starts to seem like they're working on a different cultural plane from their customers, which I find a little tough to believe.

Any reason to think it's a spoof?

Thomas @ Sat Apr 19 14:00:02 2008 EST

I distantly know a couple of people at MS. They're smart people.

Remember the "If Microsoft branded the iPod" video that went around a while back, and then turned out to actually be BY Microsoft's marketing team?

Besides, Microsoft doesn't just sell to middle managers. That's where Lotus Notes fits.

That Fuzzy Bastard @ Mon Apr 21 02:30:00 2008 EST

I dunno, man... I know some people who went on to work for MS, and they were very smart, but they were engineer-smart, which can be a long way from having taste. I still remember a very smart programmer I knew in college who would complain bitterly about the literature requirement: "Look, if people want to read that, fine, but why should I waste my college time, that I am paying for, reading books that aren't true??!?!?!?"

I always took the "If MS Branded the iPod" to be a bitter bleat from a marketing team whose every clever idea had to go through the most soul-sucking approval process imaginable, trying to show anyone watching why these good, talented people were unable to make any marketing materials that didn't feel compulsively lame.

Thomas @ Mon Apr 21 12:32:56 2008 EST

Heaven knows I've spent enough time despairing at the taste of both programmers and the marketing people I went to school with. But I figure it's an Occam's Razor thing:

The Service Pack video is aggressively bad. Unbelievably tasteless. It should come with a warning label around children and small pets, and be banned for export as information weaponry.

Again, I know exactly the kind of people you're talking about. But even the most antisocial coder should be able to realize that the music video was awful--you'd have to be in a coma not to. The simplest explanation is that it's a spoof. Anything else is just incredible to me.

That Fuzzy Bastard @ Mon Apr 21 17:42:33 2008 EST

Oops---that second paragraph line should be "...above their pay grade, *leaving* the miserable peons...". And the third paragraph should say "..*while* the only thing really wrong with it..."

And what's really sad is that I'm currently way more sober than I usually am when blog-commenting...

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