Microsoft just released a series of ads titled ‘The Twin Challenge’. In these ads, one identical twin is using Office 365 – their subscription-based version of productivity suite. While the other works with Office 2019 – the one-time purchase version. One look at these and the obvious question that comes to mind – why did Microsoft thrash Office 2019 on purpose?

This series of three videos shows 3 pairs of twins. They’re polishing their resumes and sending that across to recruiters in Word, filling out data in Excel, and fine-tuning a presentation in PowerPoint. Have a look at the ads below:

Source: Microsoft

Of course, the twin with Office 365 works faster & finishes the task first!

Why this unusual tactic?

It’s weird to see how Microsoft thrash Office 2019 in these ads. One product for sake of the other. Most of us would expect Microsoft trashing Google’s G-suite or even Apple’s iWork as a payback.

But this unusual tactic has merit to it.

Office 365 is a subscription-based product that starts around $70 (Rs 4,199 in India) a year. Office 2019 comes with a perpetual license (just a one-time sale) retails at $150 (Rs 7,799 in India). Given that most users and even businesses are slow to update their productivity suits to the newest versions, making more people opt for Office 365 is likely to rake more cash for Microsoft.

Word and Excel are basic versions of Microsoft Office, but in these ads, Microsoft focuses on Office 365’s cloud connectivity. It highlights access from anywhere, real-time co-authoring, and the use of AI to create impactful content with fewer efforts. This clearly suggests that Microsoft is going after the evolved users–professionals, students, and businesses–who thrive on these features.

Subscription – The Cash Cow

These ads accentuate what Microsoft’s VP Jared Spataro once said, ‘though Office 2019 offers full installs of office apps, it’s frozen in time (it doesn’t get updated with newer features, and is not cloud-connected). Office 365 not only includes fully installed office apps, but it also gets better over time with monthly updates and AI-powered capabilities.’

Basically, if a cloud hasn’t won you over, AI would win. And that would give Microsoft a steady stream of revenue.

The marketing team at Microsoft has certainly done justice to the one-line brief – there are people who consider Microsoft Office apps, making them prefer Office 365 over anything else.

There are over 33 Mn Office 365 subscribers at present & I won’t be surprised if the numbers swell over the next few months.

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Amit Tilekar
Customer-obsessed digital marketer and growth marketing consultant

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