retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

Most commercials, I think it is fair to say, are not worth watching once, much less twice. So it was a little the unusual the other day when I was working at my desk with a a TV news program on in the background, and I found myself using the DVR to re-watch a commercial that I'd only sort of seen and didn't quite understand.

The commercial, which you can see here, shows a bunch of Microsoft Store employees walking up Fifth Avenue in New York City, accompanied by a children's choir, and ending up at the Apple Store, where they sing Christmas carols for employees and customers. The graphic says that they want to “deliver a special message to some old friends," and that the goal is to "spread harmony."

Digital Trends reports that Microsoft had to get permission from Apple to film there, and presumably to use the video in a commercial, though Apple employees did not know precisely what was going on.

It is kind of a cute commercial, though it also made me think about other industries where this would never happen. Would Pepsi employees serenade Coke staffers in Atlanta? Would Toyota employees deliver Christmas presents to Ford headquarters in Detroit? Would Batman show up in a Marvel Christmas movie? I doubt it.

While Apple and Microsoft are competitors, they also are business partners. I can't find the numbers published anywhere, but there are have to be many millions of dollars worth of Microsoft Office for Mac products sold each year. And let's not forget that when Steve Jobs was working to revive Apple back in the late nineties, it was a $150 million investment in the company by Microsoft that gave him a little running room.

(I did find story in Engadget noting that Microsoft had sold its ownership in Apple by 2003 ... though if it had held onto those shares, they'd be worth $21.86 billion ... or roughly a quarter of its total 2015 revenue. Yikes.)

I'm also petty enough to be glad that Microsoft went to Apple, not the other way around ... and willing enough to take a cheap shot to note that there probably was no problem leaving the Microsoft Store to go caroling since there likely were few customers there to serve.

But let's put history and pettiness aside for the moment, an just enjoy the holiday moment, and of season's greetings being exchanged by two old rivals.

It is an Eye-Opener.

KC's View: