On the June 7 episode of The Colbert Report on Comedy Central, Microsoft’s search engine—whoops, “search delivery system” Bing—had one of the better in-show promotions I’ve seen in a long time. Basically each time Stephen Colbert said “Bing” Microsoft would donate $2,500 to cleanup and relief efforts in the Gulf Coast. Stephen—and guests James Carville and Jonathan Alter—did so approximately 40 times, amounting to a $100,000 donation to the Gulf of America Fund, a partnership between the host and the Baton Rouge Area Foundation.
A Microsoft Spokesperson told Marketing News Daily:
We’re always looking for ways to promote Bing to build brand awareness. We approached Colbert about the idea and worked with the show to make it happen. We thought it would be an innovative branded entertainment campaign, where we could do something good at the same time. We gave Colbert all leeway to execute the promotion. Colbert and his writers had all final say regarding when, where and how Bing was mentioned during the show—and getting zinged by Colbert is a rite of passage as far as we’re concerned.
And Stephen did mock them a few times, including when the said, Bing is a great Web site for doing Internet searches. I know that because I Googled it.” But to a large extent that is what made this promotion so successful. The Colbert Report might have the best writers on television and almost every time “Bing” was said it was funny and not forced. Plus, The Colbert Report hits what I can only assume is Microsoft’s core target audience. Young adults, 18-32.
A select number of users have been seeing this since November, but Google has now officially taken the wraps off its new search look. The major addition is a left-hand sidebar that filters and categorizes results, but they’re also pitching the use of Google Squared and Wonder Wheel for comparing different things you’re searching for.
Update: Mashable has a very detailed analysis of Google’s overhaul.
Since about half the sites on the Internet have posted this video, I guess I am required by some unwritten law, too post it as well. I personally thought the ad was spot on. The problem is I am already use Google for search, Gmail, iGoogle, Google Maps, Adwords, Google Analytics, YouTube, Calendar and Docs from time to time when I need to collaborate with a client on a project, and just started playing with Google Voice. Or put another way, they don’t need to convince me, I am already a “raving fan.”
I find many folks don’t even know a fraction of what Google offers. They are stunned when I show them Docs or Picasa. Blown away by “Street View” in Google Maps. Then when I explain all these services are free, their jaws hit the ground.
It would seem their Super Bowl ad buy would have been more effective if they used it to start to articulate to the “general” non “geek” public that Google is far more than just a search engine.