Microsoft anti-marketing campaign aims to sell Office XP

Thursday, May 3rd 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

SEATTLE (AP) _ If you've ever used Microsoft Office, chances are you know Clippy.

He's the animated paperclip that likes to pop up in the corner, often when you least expect him, offering some cheery tip about how to, say, format a letter.

Sometimes, he's so annoying you just want to pelt him with staples. Well, now you can.

On Thursday, Microsoft Corp. is scheduled to unveil the last installment in a nontraditional advertising campaign that aims to sell the newest version of Office, called XP, by encouraging customers' hatred of Clippy. The premise of the campaign is that XP is so easy, the company has taken Clippy out of the new version.

``We decided to take a gamble, and a lot of people at Microsoft weren't sure it was a right gamble to take,'' said Lisa Gurry, a product manager in the marketing department at Microsoft Office.

The company says the campaign has been more successful than they imagined. The anti-Clippy Web site has gotten about 22 million hits since launching April 11.

The last phase of the campaign will feature a video in which Clippy gets in a domestic squabble and drowns his sorrows in beer, only to be rescued _ he thinks _ by Microsoft's new game players, Xbox.

In a computer game that also goes live on the Clippy Web site Thursday, Clippy haters will be able to shoot virtual rubber bands, staples and other office supplies at Clippy.

``It's a time-waster,'' says Greg Shaw, a partner in Bellevue-based Shepardson, Stern and Kaminsky, who helped develop the ``Kill Clippy'' concept. ``You can go up there and have fun taking out whatever range of emotions you've had about Clippy.''

Gurry, who admits Clippy is a ``love him or hate him'' kind of guy, says the company also has gotten tons of customer response about the campaign to kill Clippy. This ranges from people advocating for a live Webcast of a beheading of Clippy to people who say, ``Wow, I didn't know you guys had a sense of humor.''

The anti-marketing campaign was, in fact, so unlike Microsoft that Gurry said some people wondered if it was an attempt to spoof the Redmond software giant.

``There was a lot of speculation of whether Microsoft did that or whether it was an anti-Microsoft campaign,'' Gurry said. ``We got a kick out of that.''

Although the premise of the campaign is that Clippy is going, going, gone, don't expect him to be out of your life for good. Users who are updating to XP from a previous Office version will still see Clippy unless he has previously been turned off. Only the brand new version of XP will have Clippy turned off in the default settings.