It's very common for the major technology companies to release video adverts for their products that deride or poke fun at the competition, probably the best example of these are Apple's excellent parodies of Microsoft's "I'm a PC" adverts.
Now though Microsoft are hitting out at Google with the introduction of the Gmail man, an annoying postman who reads everyone's emails before delivering them to search for key words he can use to deliver adverts to them. The video is an advertisement itself for Microsoft's new Office 365 product.
Update: Google announced in 2017 that it will stop reading Gmail emails for advertisement purposes.
It was spotted online by ZD Net blogger Mary-Jo Foley who asked Microsoft is the video was from them, as it includes touches like the company name "Contoso" which is the company's favourite fake company name, and one I've had to use myself with Microsoft Press. She received a firm "no comment".
Now I happen to like Microsoft much more than I like Google, though that's down to really disliking Google more than anything else. I have to say though that this video is a cheap shot across Google's bow. I can't understand for starters why anybody would compare Gmail to Office 365. There's no mention of Google Docs in the video. It's entirely about Gmail and advertising. The video is trying very hard to discredit Google's reputation for honesty. I have to say it fails badly.
The producers of this video have used every outdated stereotype in the book, from the annoying man you just want to hate, to the little girl portraying the high moral ground. The whole video is pretty wretched stuff.
The most important part though is that while it is based on truth, it's twisting it considerably and stretching credibility too far.
Compare this to Apple's "I'm a PC" advertisements after Windows 7 launched which were genuinely funny, had some excellent writers and, factually, simply couldn't be argued with. They were in response to Microsoft's own "I'm a PC" ads and Microsoft's attempts to get back at Apple failed abysmally.
In all the Gmail man is utterly forgettable as a video, if you watch it you'll probably just come away disliking Microsoft a little bit more. Perhaps they should have got Google to read the notes first to get keywords they could use in the script? ;) You can watch the Gmail man video here:
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