Microsoft ads say search is sick, Bing is the cure

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(AP) -- Microsoft Corp. is inventing a new malady for which its new Web search site, Bing, is the only cure.

That's the premise of the $100 million, four-month advertising campaign Microsoft hopes will turn Bing into a verb and give the software maker a fighting chance against search leader Inc. - unlike its last redesign, Live Search, which launched four years ago to such little fanfare that many Web surfers still don't know where to find it online.

In the first Bing ad, set to debut Wednesday night, Microsoft unveils "search overload" syndrome - the state of confusion brought on by search results that don't answer a user's question. The commercial starts with bleeps and blips and a montage of Web-video frivolity (think cat playing piano).

"While everyone was searching, there was bailing," a narrator says over news footage from the economic meltdown. "While everyone was lost in the links, there was collapsing."

The chaotic footage and soundtrack give way to upbeat rock music and stock-footage-style shots of children happily using consumer electronics and adults making calculations, rehabilitating injuries and going places.

"It's time to Bing," the narrator concludes. When he says the word "Bing," his voice goes much, much higher.

The current events scenes are intended to tie the idea of saving money during the recession to using the new to find travel and shopping deals, said Ty Montague, chief creative officer at JWT, the agency responsible for the TV ads.

"The world of excess is over," he said. "What people need is something that is more meaningful, gets to the point more quickly, gets them to what they want."

Next week, Microsoft will switch to a humorous approach, launching four more ads showing people answering everyday questions with monotone streams of semi-related words - "search overload" personified, the company says.

The ads, which call Bing a decision engine instead of a search engine, don't show off any of its new features. Microsoft is saving those details for an online campaign, which will include a two-hour stretch in which every ad on The New York Times' Web site is for Bing. On a Facebook page devoted to Bing, Microsoft already has more than 20,000 "fans," though the company did not say how many of them work for the company. Its Twitter followers top 16,000. And Microsoft is planning to promote Bing on the TV Web site, but executives wouldn't say when.

Microsoft is also paying to have Bing mentioned on Bravo's "The Rachel Zoe Project," a reality show about the celebrity stylist, and a new NBC series called "The Philanthropist," which will start in the fall.

To be sure, it's not clear any amount of advertising can help Microsoft win a bigger slice of searches and their related advertising revenue, which could help pull its unprofitable online division into the black. IAC/InterActiveCorp. and Yahoo Inc. have both tried TV campaigns, but Google, which shuns most formal advertising, has been the only search engine to continually increase its market share in the U.S.

Microsoft's U.S. market share is about 8 percent, according to comScore Inc. Yahoo Inc.'s share of the U.S. market has fallen from more than 30 percent five years ago to about 20 percent in April, comScore said last month. Google now holds about 64 percent of the U.S. market.

Yusuf Mehdi, a senior vice president in Microsoft's online group, said the company is targeting an increase in market share within a year.

"Anyone who thinks there will be a magical change of overnight is not being realistic about what it takes," Mehdi said.


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User comments

Jun 03, 2009
I'll filter all the Bling crap like I filter all the G00gle bling.


Jun 03, 2009
Look, why can't we just assume that a story coming from AP is going to be too outdated or poorly reported to serve as science 'news' to those actively interested in news about science?

Because this story is about the ADVERTISING STRATEGY for Microsoft's new search, for god's sakes.

Jun 03, 2009
"Inventing"? Sounds like Ms. Mintz is a bit of a Google shill. Google has great coverage and fast load times, but it sucks when it comes to filtering results. If there is a popular alternative meaning, forget about it. For one example, Vivisimo, later Clusty, tried to help with this by clustering the results into topics, but it is a metasearch engine, and lacks the value-adds of Google. I'm pretty wedded to Google with the integration to other Google apps, but I hope Bing can stir things up enough for Google to reexamine their interface and take things to the next level.

Jun 03, 2009
What a terrible marketing plan. Google is neither broken, nor outmoded.

Bing might be an alternative to Google, but it is not, and will not be the next Google.

Jun 03, 2009
I thought Microsoft was a PR company that happened to make software.

So for "Bing", they are going to promote it with a "2 hour" campaign on NYT's website, being mentioned in a "reality show" and a show that doesn't air until this fall, and best of all, on "Hulu", a TV website not available to the rest of the world?

Go figure.

Jun 03, 2009
the ad sounds wierd

Jun 04, 2009
^ Spot on.

Jun 04, 2009
I have not checked out what bing does, yet. But naming that "bing" sounds not so good. Is that to sound like "bingo" ?

For what that is supposed to do, naming as "purg" is probably more fitting. :-))

BTW: Binge & purge is bulimia. The purg there might not sound fantastic, either. :-))

But what they try to do (Yahoo, etc) is to purge the search, to get a good little list.

Jun 04, 2009
LOL! All the comments here are spot on and highly entertaining. Whats in a name. Please, its getting really amusing now. Bing(e) and purge and Bing(o) above made me laugh hard. Tweets, twists and twits...I could go on forever! The English language has some life in it yet...ur 2 amusing! ;-)

I'm not married to Google and consider some of their applications and beta's too personally intrusive and risky. Useful as a search engine but not as world rulers or economic consultants on meta-analysis. MS should focus on their OS since the last gen was seriously awful. Since when do companies/corporations need to be everything to everyone?

Part of the stupid economic paradigm of "diversification" and too big to fail. Try and do everything and then you do nothing well. And no Google, you can't have my medical records! D'oh!

Thanks for the chuckles all!

Jun 08, 2009
Google is the success it is for the same reason Microsoft became king of the hill, their stuff works and simply. I'm not sure about Bing... if it is to take off, using it has to be intuitive.

Jun 14, 2009
The Bing search is actually not that bad, to be fair. And hey, it indexes pr0n.

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