Microsoft's recent $300 million marketing push includes Bill Gates working alongside comedian Jerry Seinfeld in a series of commercials. Microsoft reinvigorated marketing efforts also include customer-service representatives who will be sent to Best Buy, Circuit City and other brick and mortar retail stores.
The Redmond, Washington-based company plans to have 155 "Microsoft Gurus" deployed to retailers across the country throughout 2008 and will expand the program depending on its success at the end of the year. According to Microsoft general manager of corporate communications, Tom Pilla, the customer reps would be responsible for helping answer questions regarding Microsoft and PCs offered in the stores.
Rather than pay each guru on commission, they'll be graded according to the customer experience by customers, who will chat with the gurus and learn more about Microsoft products and the PC industry.
Since October 2007, Microsoft has had a similar program with 25 service employees in several stores in the United States and in Europe. The company did not say how successful its small pilot program has been among shoppers.
Apple has a similar service, dubbed the "Genius Bar," located in many Apple retail stores, with Apple employees available to help customers with their Macs or iPods. Each Apple Genius Bar also helps offer on-site technical support for customers who purchased something and are having problems with it.
Microsoft has been desperate to get consumers interested in Windows Vista, which users have not been eager to adopt. The Microsoft Gurus and its $10 million for Seinfeld's services are the latest tactics as Microsoft tries to stop losing ground to the OS X and Linux operating systems.
The first Microsoft commercial, which aired last Thursday during the opening game of the NFL season, was met with confusion and disappointment among those in the computer industry.