Microsoft Canada laying low

Spin control. That's what software giant Microsoft has been busy doing in the U.S. market over the past several weeks, in the wake of a widely publicized antitrust ruling. When it comes to the Canadian market, however, analysts argue that a...

Spin control. That’s what software giant Microsoft has been busy doing in the U.S. market over the past several weeks, in the wake of a widely publicized antitrust ruling. When it comes to the Canadian market, however, analysts argue that a "business-as-usual" strategy may well be the best way to go.

On the whole, Canadian consumers probably couldn’t care less about Microsoft’s legal troubles, says Kevin Restivo, software analyst with Toronto-based International Data Corporation (Canada).

"Their image hasn’t been damaged in the consumer’s eye," he says. "Certainly a lot of attention has been turned toward the case, but as long as consumers’ software is working and it’s on their desktops, I would have to say that [Microsoft's] image is just fine."

On April 3, a U.S. District Court ruled that the Redmond, Wash.-based company had used its monopoly power to block rivals from marketing operating systems or emerging technologies that threatened its market dominance.

The ruling sent shares tumbling, and left Microsoft officials south of the border scrambling to minimize the fallout. A corporate image-building campaign featuring chairman Bill Gates hit U.S. airwaves in the aftermath, as part of the company’s effort to muster public support.

Not a word, however, has been heard from the Mississauga, Ont.-based offices of Microsoft Canada (whose representatives, Strategy was told, were unavailable for comment).

That silence isn’t actually surprising, Restivo says.

"This is still a U.S.-driven issue – it’s important to remember that," he says. "On the Canadian side, I’m not sure they would do anything to counter it. It’s simply a matter of all systems go."

Microsoft’s Canadian operation is currently gearing up for the launch of the Windows 2000 operating system, as well as the database product SQL Server 2000, and the groupware product Exchange 2000.

While the recent legal turmoil hasn’t yet translated into a loss of sales, there’s no question that the company’s overall image has been tarnished, says Richard Morochove, president of Toronto-based computer consulting firm Morochove & Associates. And in the long run, this may have a direct bottom-line impact.

Indeed, he says, there are many people now who refuse even to consider a Microsoft product as long as there’s an alternative.

"There’s a growing ‘anybody-but-Microsoft’ attitude," he says.

From Karen Howe’s dining table: Creativity, COVID and Cannes

ICYMI, The Township's founder gathers the best of the best campaigns and trends so far.

Cannes Base Camp

By Karen Howe

I’m attending Cannes from the glory of my dining room table. There’s not a palm tree in sight, yet inspiration and intel are present in abundance.

Cannes Lions is a global cultural pulse check. The social course correction in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and BLM has delivered far greater diversity in the judging panels as well as the work. And we are all better for it.

I’m proud to say that creativity defeated COVID, which speaks to its power. Great work and big ideas flourished, despite unimaginable odds.

The work from the past two years spans a vast emotional range. From the profundity of Dove’s “Courage is Beautiful” to the hyper exuberance of Burberry’s “Festive,” they are opposite ends of the spectrum, but each answered a need in us.

Take note, the ascendency of gaming cannot be understated. Smart brands have embraced the channel. It makes sense, because gamers participate to meet others around the world, not just to play. And they represent a huge and powerful community. That’s why QSR Wendy’s gamified their iconic gal in RPG’s Feast of Legends.

Burger King sponsored the unknown Stevenage Football Club, transforming the team into online heroes and vaulting BK into the fray at the same time. Once again, the brand embedded itself in culture.

The birth of gaming tourism arrived when Xbox snuggled up to travel guides and created a brilliant baby: a travel guide for gaming worlds. It, too, embedded itself in culture.

From the standpoint of social good, Reporter Without Borders showed how it worked with Mindcraft for its “Uncensored Library” to bypass press censorship, with Minecraft providing a loophole to a space where young people could be educated. It provided youth with a powerful tool to fight oppression: truth.

COVID changed us in unexpected ways. We learned how to pay attention again and there was a notable lack of 30-second commercials. Instead, longer format content thrived. Apple’s WFH was seven minutes long. Entertainment reigned king, so we find ourselves returning to our advertising roots.

Seeing competitive brands form partnerships was one of this year’s other great surprises. The brilliantly simple “Beer Cap Project” by Aguila to reduce binge-drinking saw the brand reach out to competitive beers to join in. Aguila put incentivizing (keyword: free) reminders to drink water, eat food and get home safely on its bottle caps from all sorts of fast food chains, ride-share co’s and H2O brands.

On a personal level, I’m so proud of Canada again this year. Given that it was two years of work from all over the world being judged, even making the Cannes shortlist was an accomplishment. Canada is herding in the Lions in tremendous numbers – and it’s not even over. Fingers are crossed.

KAREN-HOWE-PIC-higher-rez-300x263Karen Howe is a Canadian Cannes Advisory Board Member and founder of The Township Group