Monday, December 22, 2008

Widening the Gap: Why Ads Are Not Enough to Restore Microsoft's Legitimacy

Well, yesterday I wrote about the official completion of my internship process. You didn't really think that would be the end of the blog, though, did you? Today, I'm sharing with you my other semester project (well, 2/3, but I can't share the campaign I did for my campaigns class with you until after its launch).

So, my paper for my graduate crisis communication/issues management public relations class was titled the same as this blog post. I looked at the "Life Without Walls" ad campaign by Microsoft, which featured the Jerry Seinfeld/Bill Gates "What's Next?" ads and the subsequent switch to the "I'm a PC" ads. The image in this blog post is actually one I created to explain the relationships Micrsoft has with its publics.

This project used legitimacy gap theory, which basically says that organizations can create gaps between themselves and publics by doing things outside of social (or market) norms or by failing to adapt to social (or market) changes. These legitimacy gaps produce various issues for organizations.

I determine from my study that Microsoft began its ad campaign with a pre-existing legitimacy gap because of its monopolistic, bullying practices and its poor business model. However, through an analysis of traditional media coverage about the "Life Without Walls" campaign messages (using LexisNexis) and also of blog coverage (to include comments found on blog posts), I was able to see that the new ad campaign did not bridge this gap — in fact, it widened the gap through unclear, absurd messages.

By determining these results, I recommend that Microsoft must fix its business model and redeem itself with consumers through apologia. If it does not do so, its current growth, as compared with that of its rival, Apple, will result in a loss of Microsoft's top spot in the technological marketplace.

I hope to polish this paper for submission and hopefully publication in a public relations journal when I return to school from winter break, so be on the lookout for it.

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