According to a recent Adage article Microsoft is set to launch a massive advertising campaign to announce its latest version of a search engine called Bing (aka code-name Kumo).Â Will it work? The article claims that Microsoft will “focus on planting the idea that today’s search engines don’t work as well as consumers previously thought by asking them whether search (aka Google) really solves their problems. That, Microsoft is hoping, will give consumers a reason to consider switching search engines, which, of course, is one of Bing’s biggest challenges.” Way before I got into the advertising business I can remember a similar effort by an upstart company that intended to unseat the number one soda company in the world. I’m talking about the famous Pepsi challenge. That was over 30 years ago and it is, in my opinion, a fantastic example of how marketing dollars can be used to eat into a market leaders profit by simply suggesting there’s room for a contender. In the Pepsi challenge, it really came down to convincing people that one caramel colored sugar water was just as good or even better than the other. In fact, in blind taste tests, Pepsi claimed that more Americans preferred Pepsi over Coke. I took the test back in the mid-seventies at the Los Angeles County Fair and was dumbfounded to discover that I too chose Pepsi over my favorite Coca-cola drink. The sales guy who conducted the test planted doubt in my mind about what I liked. OK, so I never switched, mostly because I love the Coke brand like a biker likes his harley, but for a second there I actually kinda sorta considered it. Other Coke loyalists however, did end up going over to the dark side. Is Microsoft trying to lead us in the same direction? It seems so. Now, when are we going to get a taste of bing?
Enzo F. Cesario