Microsoft and Its Allies Prepare Windows 8 Marketing Blitz

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Microsoft Corp. plans this weekend to start the marketing blitz for Windows 8, the software company’s dramatic overhaul of its flagship product to catch up to the rise of mobile devices such as Apple Inc.’s iPad.

According to people briefed on the marketing efforts, Microsoft’s ads beginning this weekend will coincide with pre-orders of some computers and tablet devices powered by Windows 8. Those devices are slated to go on sale widely on Oct. 26.

It’s no small push. People with knowledge of the marketing efforts said Microsoft and its hardware allies will have blankets of ads with a cumulative price tag of hundreds of millions of dollars.

Dell Ads to Focus on Human Side of Technology

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A new branding campaign from computer maker Dell Inc. takes a cue from Apple Inc.’s marketing playbook: It doesn’t talk about technology.

In one spot, a teenage girl talks about how she uses a Dell laptop to video chat with a boy she has a crush on. In another, a grandmother explains how she keeps in touch with her family using a Dell smartphone.

The campaign, dubbed “More You” and expected to begin Friday, is aimed at personalizing technology and marks a break in tradition for a company that got its start by commoditizing computers. Rather than focus on the specifications of products, Dell is hoping the campaign will encourage consumers to think about features and how they can be used.

“We realized it was important to connect more emotionally with customers,” said Paul-Henri Ferrand, who heads Dell’s consumer marketing efforts. “Most competitors are neglecting the fact that technology is empowering people’s lives.”

Apple’s Retail Secret: Full Service Stores

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Steve Jobs turned Apple Inc. into the world’s most valuable technology company with high-tech products like the iPad and iPhone. But one anchor of Apple’s success is surprisingly low tech: its chain of brick-and-mortar retail stores.

A look at confidential training manuals, a recording of a store meeting and interviews with more than a dozen current and former employees reveal some of Apple’s store secrets. They include: intensive control of how employees interact with customers, scripted training for on-site tech support and consideration of every store detail down to the pre-loaded photos and music on demo devices.

LinkedIn Pushes Ad Tools

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LinkedIn Corp. is beefing up its advertising technologies, offering marketers more ways to target ads to the social network’s users and making it easier for big advertisers to connect to its website.

The business-oriented network, which has more than 90 million members, plans to roll out updates for its marketing tools that let advertisers zero in on people based upon job titles, seniority, age and location, people familiar with the matter said.

LinkedIn, which declined to comment, will be wading into an already competitive market where social-networking rival Facebook Inc. is rapidly gaining ground. Last month, more than a quarter of all online display ads in the U.S. appeared on Facebook, according to comScore Inc. By comparison, LinkedIn represented less than 1%.

Online Coupons Get Smarter

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When Jennifer London cut a deal with Groupon Inc. to promote her smoothie shop in an email, she wasn’t sure how many people would show up for discounted drinks.

Thirsty New Yorkers bought more than 1,300 of her online coupons, and “it kind of blew my mind,” Ms. London said. People redeemed roughly 900 of the coupons over six months at her small Xoom NYC Inc. shop, including a crush in June, but she was disappointed that few became regular customers.

“Most of the people who came are not from this neighborhood—I most likely won’t see them again,” Ms. London said, adding she wished she had limited each person to three coupons rather than 10. Fortunately, she said, not all the coupons were redeemed. “I definitely would have lost money if everyone had shown up,” she said.

Groupon and its competitors, which build buzz by sending out a daily email alerting subscribers in a city to a local bargain, are listening to gripes like Ms. London’s and recasting their operations. Among the new approaches: computer programs to better target consumers with personalized deals and staff on the ground to help merchants.

Sculptor plugs Greek classics into iPod Age

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SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) — With an iPhone, Zeus could have saved time to call on lightning from the heavens — so says California-based sculptor Adam Reeder, who seeks to merge classical Greek iconography with 21st century gadgets.

“Art is what we use to talk about our time,” said the 33-year-old artist, whose unabashed aim is to fuse western civilization’s antiquity with its newfound technologies.

The sculptor did so with the mythological Greek nymph Pan, replacing a trademark flute with Apple Inc’s iconic music player and headphones.

“He’s still a musician, he’s still dancing, but now he’s listening to his iPod,” Reeder said.