Maybe Lauren’s Not Cool Enough to Be a Google User, Either
“I’m just not cool enough to be a Mac person.”
– Lauren from Microsoft’s new “Laptop Hunters” commercial
With Microsoft’s February share of the search market weighing in at a paltry 8.2 percent and declining, the company has gone to extraordinary lengths to reverse the public’s indifference to its search offering. It tried a loyalty program called Cashback–“We are ‘The Search That Pays You Back!’” It tried a rewards program called SearchPerks, as well–“Start earning tickets towards exciting prizes whenever you search the Web!” Neither seems to have done much good.
Now, as it prepares to rebrand its search engine under a new name–Kumo–Microsoft (MSFT) is redoubling its marketing efforts with more proven methods. The company has hired ad agency JWT to create an estimated $80 million to $100 million ad campaign covering TV, online, print and radio. “According to one person close the situation, the forthcoming campaign will be careful to not position ‘Kumo’ as a competitor to Yahoo or Google and instead cast it as a reimagined search engine that ups the game by yielding fewer but more-focused results,” reports Ad Age, adding that such a strategy “is probably a good–if not the only–way to go.”
That said, if Kumo purports to be a “reimagined” search engine, it does seem to be lacking a bit in imagination. Certainly from what we’ve seen of it, Kumo doesn’t seem all that different from Google (GOOG). In fact, with its spartan design and goofy name, it arguably shares more similarities with the search sovereign than before. But then, perhaps, that’s the point. Perhaps what Microsoft is doing here is not reimagining Live Search as an entirely new game-changing service, but reimagining it as Google in hopes that we’ll forget its sad history as a failed Microsoft search product and reimagine it as a successful one.