Will tech companies ever learn?

Oh Microsoft, you are spoiling us! The Sugababes as the new faces of Windows 7? Who are you trying to reach? Eight-year-old girls? Because I’m not an advertising expert or anything, but last time I checked, they weren’t exactly the biggest consumers of computer operating systems.

This is nearly as good as the Della campaign, when Dell decided that they only way they could get women to relate to technology was to dazzle us with recipes and calorie counting tips.

A breathless Microsoft tells us, “They [the Sugababes] joined us to showcase just how simple Windows 7 is and how it helps them manage their busy showbiz lives.”

Finally! Something to help me manage my busy showbiz life! Microsoft, you have me so figured out.

Fair enough, I’d guess that lots of female consumers (and male, for that matter) want an operating system that’s intuitive and easy to use, and the point of this campaign does seem to be to make it clear that Windows 7 is exactly that.

But why we are hearing this from a girl band whose main audience must be pre-teen is a bit baffling. It’s a perfect example of how tech companies feel the need to make something glossy and pretty before women will even glance at it. If I want something pretty, I’ll buy a bloody necklace. Everyone likes nice-looking technology (see the universal appeal of Apple) but you do not need to make tech “glamourous” to make women want to buy it. In fact, it puts a lot of them off.

Incidentally, I’m not sure why but my colleague got a bottle of gin from Microsoft today. If you’re listening, Microsoft, I’m going to need one of those before I can look at this again.

I saw the Bitchbuzz post on this earlier after Belinda Parmar, an advertising consultant who set up the Lady Geek consultancy, mentioned it on Twitter. Her thoughts on the ad campaign: 

“The Sugababes and Windows 7 – do me a favour. Not only is this the most ridiculous partnership I have ever heard of, but I have never ever seen a Sugababe with a laptop. This is just another example of the tech industry thinking the way to attract women is to dumb down and glitz up your products. Windows 7 needs to speak for itself.

“Women are intelligent enough to understand the benefits of Window 7 without needing a ‘babe’ to dress it up. Whoever advised Microsoft on this needs to be brought to task.”

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