Microsoft Kickoff Videos: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

My guess is you’d need be under 25 to have missed the Dean Scream of Microsoft videos, this gem of a few years ago featuring a bouncing Steve Balmer at what I’m guessing is an annual kickoff.

Now, say what you will, but I’ll take genuine enthusiasm on the part of a slightly crazed, middle-aged, balding executive (it takes one to know one) over faux corporate fun.

For an extreme dose of the such faux fun, check out this video, entitled Rockin’ our Sales by Bruce ServicePack and the Vista Street Band. Presumably the video was made by Microsoft’s marketing department — at I’d guess a cost of at least $100K — to “fire up the troops” at some sales kickoff for Vista.

It’s so weak that it was blogged in a Wall Street Journal post entitled Microsoft’s Cheesy Video to Sell Vista.

But, in a surprisingly turn, Microsoft then claimed that it was never intended to be funny. It was, they said, a spoof, an attempt to make fun of themselves. Frankly, I have trouble believing it, but Charles Cooper of CNet makes the case here. Even if it is true — even if they deliberately made a horrific video in order to draw lameness cries only to say “fooled you, it was supposed to bad” — then all I can say is what the heck were they trying to accomplish?

Either way, it’s lame and a huge waste of resources. The only question is whether they aggravated the first assault by deliberately setting out to waste my time with the second.

Now, having done a few song re-writes and participated in a few skits of my own, some might cry foul. Which, in turn, raises the question of what makes some internal corporate videos so fun and what make others so lame. To me, to make it work, the sketch must:

  • Play off one or more real internal issues
  • Include a degree of irreverence
  • Generally be performed by company executives and not paid performers
  • Not be a transparent attempt at motivation
  • At least make an earnest attempt at humor

And finally, take it easy on the budget. Managers squeezed to their last $50K on the final budget pass in December don’t like to see $100K vaporized by marketing before their very eyes a few weeks later.

One response to “Microsoft Kickoff Videos: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

  1. Daniel Tunkelang

    Do interns count as paid performers?

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