Vista Sales, TV ads [Was: [Linux-aus] Vista v. Linux Movie]

Paul Wayper paul.wayper at
Mon Feb 12 09:04:09 UTC 2007

Jeff Waugh wrote:
> The entire point of my previous mail was... but *what*? What is it that you
> hope to inspire the audience to *do* based on this advertising? What is the
> phone number that they will call? What is the product that they will try?
> I am always surprised to see these ideas resurface throughout the community
> because they always suffer the same flaw: What next? Rounding up a bunch of
> "multimedia students" to sort it out for us doesn't solve the core problem!
Sure, your point is 'what next?'.  We know this, because you keep
reiterating it every time someone answers your question.  This doesn't
actually make you right.  There are only a certain number of times you
can say 'but you guys aren't getting it, only I know the truth!' before
I think you have to listen to the rest of the group and wonder if you're
not the pot calling the kettle black.

I totally agree with your general point: a TV-only ad for 'linux'
without any reference to how to get it, what it's used for or what shoe
sizes it comes in is pointless.  But I don't think anyone here is
suggesting that.  Most people here are talking about a variety of media,
a variety of messages, all with specific points and tailored to specific
'markets'.  And ultimately there are many messages, there are many
targets, and the different approach that each 'ad' creator has appeals
to a different target, which is a Good Thing.  For the most part, I
think most people on the list are proposing to use a range of different
media, especially the free ones such as blogs, podcasts and YouTube and
so forth.  No-one's suggesting spending any money, let alone Linux
Australia's, on any one project just yet.

But even a small step away from that 'what next' ad - an ad where you
just see someone doing stuff in Linux, using apps that few people using
proprietary OSes will recognise, with a light, funky soundtrack and no
explanation, closing on a URL (e.g.,, - is pretty much exactly
what Apple and Sony do to sell stuff: they talk about lifestyle and
build a curiosity in the audience.  That ad for the Sony Bravia just
featured truckloads of coloured balls bouncing down a hill in San
Francisco and the name at the end - that was all about building a
curiosity in the audience, which is what Kathy Sierra talked about with
easter eggs and 'the nod'.  This, by your definitions, is a useless ad
(because it doesn't answer the 'what next' question), but evidently Sony
and Apple don't think so.

Your argument to that has been that 'we're small, we have no
marketshare, we can't answer the question'.  This misses the point: it's
up to the curious to answer the question.  The point of these type of
ads is simply to propose to the viewer that there are choices, that
there's something they haven't heard of that might make their life
better.  No-one on the list expects our ads to appeal to more than a
small fraction of the audience; but neither do any of the other
advertisers in any media.

Personally, I want all the options.  I want a competition like the one
that's been suggested on 
I want documentaries, interviews, and real life segments on TV and radio
and in newspapers.  I want subversive little YouTube videos like the one
I saw a while back, where the guy demonstrates how to make Windows
reliable (by running it inside VMWare under Linux).  I want Software
Freedom Day, Open Days at LCA and installfests at computer fairs.  I
want puppies and kittens!  (although not 'living together' - that would
be a Bad Thing.)  Why not?

So, despite your changing the title of the post, I think we should look
at all the options, not get our blinkers on and say "this particular
type of TV ad is bad because I personally don't think it will work".

Ultimately, I think Chris Smart's point in setting up is
important: we are at a crucial point in time.  Two years ago when Vista
was a pipe dream and the majority used Windows XP, and most Linux
distros were still evolving things like useful control panels and GUI
package updaters, no-one but the enthusiast would change to Linux.  But
with Vista out now, those people that are looking to move from Windows
XP are having to choose - and they're the ones we can appeal to.  Those
people that just get whatever flavour of Windows is on their new machine
will start to hear about this 'choice' thing and start asking for it. 
Even the corporate world is changing as companies realise that it's no
longer true that no-one ever got fired for buying Microsoft.  By upping
the pressure in mainstream media as well as the more traditional free
internet media that we've used in the past, we support people's freedom
and choice.

I'm not doing this because I want to support a whole bunch of Linux
newbies.  I'm not doing this because I want them all to learn to use the
command line or play nethack.  I'm doing this because I support freedom
and choice, and I see Linux as the best choice of Operating System and
FLOSS as the best choice of application software to do this.  That's why
mainstream media is important: because our points are not just about
technology and leetness.

Have fun,


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