IBM has put its money where its mouth is and created a big-budget ad to get across to Average Joe just why Linux is so great.
The American ad will be shown for the first time during the US Open Men's tennis finals next week - which is clever cause Linux is "open" source. It will also be shown in IBM's very pricey slot at the start of the American Football season.
The slogan is "Linux. The Future is Open. IBM." And the ad itself will feature a young blond boy with blue eyes of around Linux's age (i.e. nine or ten) who sits quietly while assorted experts educate him - a football player (in the British sense), an architect, musician, exec, pilot, poet, astronomer and so on will pop up with words of wisdom.
The idea is that by sharing knowledge you progress more and mankind is better off and therefore Linux is wonderful so buy it and we'll screw Microsoft yet.
The ads will run on TV but also on the web and in magazines and so on and so forth. It has had self-important brand managers reaching for their dictionary of gibberish but fortunately others have managed to make more sense.
"We know that Linux is a breakthrough technology, not only because it is based on open standards, but because it is built by a community of technologists who include some of the world's most talented programmers," said IBM marketing VP Abby Kohnstamm. "This advertisement is intended to highlight IBM's steadfast commitment to Linux as representing the best in industry collaboration and innovation."
Unfortunately, if you do catch the ads you won't have a clue who on earth the people are. Actually, that's not strictly fair. Muhammed Ali pops up. Lord only knows what he'll advise. And then there's "academician" Henry Louis Gates, director Penny Marshall and football coach John Wooden - who all seem to be well-known in the States but we've never heard of over here.
Even more unfortunately, IBM's marketing director in the UK has confirmed that Big Blue has no plans for any Linux ads over here. We think they should reconsider. Ads are, of course, the devil's work, but it would be nice to have one that selflessly pushed other people's work and promoted shared knowledge.
That is why we need a UK ad featuring:
- David Jason as Del-Boy, knocking out cheap pirated copies of Windows and scoffing at the licence-free Linux
- Ricky Gervais, expounding on the importance of teamwork
- Lorraine Kelly, on why Linux is great, beautiful, great, oooh it's so beautiful
- Jeffrey Archer saying why Microsoft's proprietary software is better for all and how he helped Linus Torvalds to develop it, and finally...
- Glenn Hoddle explaining why Windows users are being punished for sins in a previous life
If that doesn't get people buying Linux, nothing will.