Windows has gone to the Dark Side

While marketing may seem like it is following a new trend every day, there is one constant. We are always looking for more targeted approaches. Channels which will deliver a message to all our current customers, potential customers and future customers. And this has resulted many new hyper-targeted channels helped along by social media and monitoring how we interact with technology. Well, it is no longer confined to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – now Windows has transitioned to the Dark Side!

Star Wars

If there is one entertainment brand which hasn’t needed any marketing help in the last twelve months, it is Star Wars. It was on the edge of everyone’s lips all throughout last year as we discovered new teaser trailers. Recommendations were flying wild when the film was finally released in cinemas. And now conversations are starting back up with the DVD release and speculation about this year’s spin off.

Most of this conversation has been achieved through the very careful selection of brand partnerships. Selling the rights of the Star Wars brand and characters to be used in advertising by big players in their industry who have essentially marketed the franchise on their behalf – and you can bet that every single product, slogan or advert containing any mention of Star Wars has been vetted by the powers at Disney. And while this was certainly true for the build up to the film, they have reheated this strategy for the DVD release.

If you own a Windows computer and updated to Windows 10, you will have been greeted each day by a new, random picture before the login screen. And each of these pictures contains a button up the top where you can ‘rate’ or ‘hate’ the picture to allow the database to provide you with more pictures you will like and less which don’t appeal. At least that is what they told us . . .

This week, Windows have steered away from the force to the Dark Side.

This pre-login screen which previously housed beautiful pictures now features a shot of a desert that suspiciously looks like it has come from a galaxy far, far away. If that subliminally wasn’t enough, they have also added a number of annotations to the picture which you can click to be taken straight to the app store and download the newly available movie as soon as you enter your password.

And all this time we were feeding our likes and our dislikes straight into Windows!

Look at this from Windows’ perspective. They have found a moment in our lives where we are all a captive audience. They have created a rotating art gallery which we pay attention to and interact with each day. Why wouldn’t you turn it into a digital billboard? But they will have to be careful because I, as a consumer, have the ability to put my own pictures into this lock screen at any point and turn off the rotating gallery – and once I have done that there’s no going back, you have lost me as a potential revenue-earning audience member.

At the moment, Star Wars is interesting enough to me that, while it detracts from my experience, it doesn’t outweigh the possibility that I could open up my computer and be greeted by a new day-brightening picture tomorrow. But it very easily could outweigh the latter if they use it too often or show me ads I have no interest in. (Luckily, I have been telling them what I like for the past six months!).

This is a clever move by Windows, not only for their bottom line but also for the fact they can deliver narrowly targeted advertising to me which could enhance my experience. But all this power in the wrong hands could be detrimental to their brand. May the force be with you Windows as you undertake this difficult journey towards monetarisation!