Microsoft, a company always marked by bizarre and haphazard marketing, appears to be attempting a turnaround: Today, the appointed Gayle Troberman, a long-time marketing director at the company, to the grand-sounding, newly created position of "Chief Creative Officer."
According to Ad Age , Troberman, who's been at Microsoft for 13 years, will now be overseeing the company's relationships with advertising houses, which already includes WPP and Crispin Porter+Bogusky . Her elevation caps a reshuffling of the marketing department.
Microsoft, for its part, isn't saying this is part of a big shift, but rather a natural outcome of a "review of business processes." Not too convincing, right? It seems more likely that Microsoft is trying to bring a more coherent vision to recent marketing efforts that seem baffling from the outside.
Troberman's new job is a strange one: Few similar companies have c-suite jobs going to "creatives." (For example, Apple doesn't even have a chief creative officer.) And the title is one usually reserved for ad agencies--and advertising pros who've come-up with successful campaigns in the past. Being a client who buys ad services isn't nearly the same sort of job.
If Troberman is meant to overhaul Microsoft's marketing, she'll have a tough road to hoe. One former VP recently wrote  in The New York Times that the company's ugly, turf-protecting culture that dooms any good idea to failure. (As far as design culture? A very high-profile designer once told us that he refused to work for Microsoft because not a single person with a design background held a VP position or higher--despite there being more than a hundred VP's at the company.)
And meanwhile, it's hard to point to any bright spots in Microsoft's recent ad efforts.
Remember this ad campaign, created by Crispin Porter , which had Bill Gates shopping with Jerry Seinfeld a full ten years after Seinfeld went off air and cost $300 million?
Or this one, by Bradley and Montgomery, which used the specter of gross-out porn to advertise Internet Explorer's privacy features? (It was almost immediately yanked.)
And who could forget this ad, which seemed to make a joke out of getting excited about Windows 7 (while also trying to get you excited about Windows 7):
The missteps seem to simply be in the culture. Witness this ad, sent to software vendors to promote Windows 386 in 1986:
The point being: Troberman might very well herald a new age for Microsoft. And maybe in that respect, a company veteran with battle scars from her tenure is the right person, because she'll know just how far Redmond is from functional.
[Via AdAge ]