Raising their stock the Microsoft way

PETER YORK ON ADS No 165: NASDAQ
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Now Here is Tomorrow Calling. Nasdaq is an American stock market, screen-based, virtual - and here it is on mainstream British TV. Its ad is almost entirely composed of Microsoft Windows screens, all about Bill Gates and Microsoft. First up are screen after screen of magazine covers with the geek as cover boy; then screens with music references - a CD (Gates as buyer-up of the world's culture) and a drop-in of young musicians playing strings. All followed by Bill's informal leg - shorts, white socks, no shoes - up on the desk by his PC, as he looks at some impressive bar-charts.

The voice-over, meanwhile, is the gravy-dark voice of mature US news anchors, of political advertising and other kinds of pour-over gravitas. Thus: "It is said he is to computer software what Thomas Edison is the to light bulb ... runs two-thirds of the computers in the world ... on the day he turned 41 his company, Microsoft, was bigger than Kodak, MacDonalds and IBM ... where in today's world do you find companies capable of such astonishing growth?"

The answer, of course, is the gnomically named Nasdaq: "The stock market for the next 100 years."

Now who exactly is paying for this, and to what end? Upcoming entrepreneurs who might be considering in which US exchange to list their mushrooming high-tech stocks could be reached more cheaply in a variety of specialist media. And Gates certainly needs no more coverage.

No, it's clearly aimed at men who want to feel like potential entrepreneurs: business-literate, computer-friendly, and a bit evolved (that classy music!) It's corporate advertising, long-term build.

Nasdaq is saying, we may not be the NYSE, we're something better: we're the bourse for Bill's World and Bill's World is big. So if you don't know the name, that's your problem. Meanwhile this - the first TV ad for a stock exchange - will prove a hot- button issue in the private boxes of the south-east's smarter football grounds.

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