Chicago (IL) – Delivering a critical message to potential customers through stock photography can work in some cases, but can backfire in others – which was the case in a recent Microsoft PR campaign. A Microsoft marketing brochure bundled with OEM systems shows images of Apple’s MacBook Pro and kids holding Playstation controllers.
It does not really matter how many millions of dollars you sink into marketing campaigns and promotional materials, subtle errors can sneak through several levels of review. A recent incident at Microsoft however may be a bit embarrassing, at least if customers are looking a bit closer at those images. According to Rami Taibah over at the Hehe2 blog, a Vista booklet that came with a brand new HP Pavilion desktop features an image of something that looks like Apple’s MacBook Pro notebook.
“The first thing that fell into my hand was this Microsoft Vista promotional booklet that had an image of the ideal happy family computing on a laptop”, Taibah wrote “What stood out was that the laptop looked awfully similar to the Macbook Pro!” He also spotted another huge misstep on the last page of the booklet advertising Vista’s gaming capabilities. The image used shows two happy kids in the heat of what appears to be a console gaming match. The problem: They hold Playstation controllers.
If you take a closer look at the Vista ad, you can tell with some certainty that the computer shown in the image is, in fact, the MacBook Pro. The position of the power button gives it away, as well as the trackpad and the ports layout. You can see the exact same stock image used on this website.
Of course, it certainly was not Microsoft’s intention to promote rival products in their own marketing brochure. You can always argue whether the notebook show in Microsoft’s brochure really is the MacBook Pro. But even if it isn’t, using a generic image that closely resembles your rival’s product is a bad idea. In case of the gaming ad, there is no doubt that the controllers the kids are holding in their hands are Playstation controllers.
The blame goes to the software maker’s creative agency that created the brochure using stock images, without paying a closer look at them. Those pictures may deliver the general message, but anyone who looks closer will notice what products are actually shown.