When Two Quarrel the Third Rejoices…

February 21, 2009

Based on my latest article I wanted to highlight how additional brands can take advantage from the battle between Apple and Microsoft. Linux, an open source computer operating system, came up with a clip that uses Apple’s advertising idea.

A very clever way of advertising, bearing in mind that Linux runs on both Apple and PC (Windows compatible) hardware.

Another brand that applied a similar style to Apple is Nintendo. They use the idea to promote their games console Nintendo Wii in order to outperform their competitor Playstation (Sony). I am not sure how successful that was; given the slightly cheesy presentation, but it must have caused some word-of-mouth marketing achievements with 3,802,726 views on YouTube (You can only see this video on YouTube if you log in, in order to verify that you are 18).

It would be interesting to discuss to what extent “sex sells” in that case and if there was some return on investment for Nintendo, but unfortunately I struggle to find any information. One thing is definitely clear: This video encouraged the interactive media director Giovanny Gutierrez from Tinsley Advertising to believe Nintendo may appreciate a campaign in the name of “sex sells”. He therefore created a home made video called “Why every guy should buy their girlfriend Wii Fit” where his girlfriend Lauren Bernat, who also works for Tinsley, is executing the Nintendo Wii game “Hula Hoop” only dressed in knickers and a t-shirt (More)

This video, uploaded by “tinsleyadvertising” which has currently 8,051,024 views, was classified as viral marketing tool from Nintendo, but they denyed having any responsibility. Gutierrez claims having created that clip on a non commercial basis, but admits he would love a job at Nintendo….The full story can be viewed at The Tech Herald.



  1. Interesting post, job well done.

    Check out new concepts for advertising:


  2. Yeap, Unix/Linux has been there all along, it should have portrayed it as an older experienced person, what do you think?
    Wii’s message is much more interactive with shake-you-body focus, playing together in community whereas the others such as PS3 are more into the old sedentary play style. The videogame industry has recently been accused of promoting child obscenity. http://www.monstersandcritics.com/gaming/wii/news/article_1385520.php/McDonald%92s_accuses_videogames_of_influencing_childhood_obesity

  3. Ha! Now I understand a bit more about the need for big players to watch out for the outsider. Perhaps the big pharmaceutical companies should take note.

  4. Thanks for your comments and support!

    @Anderson: I think the person representing Unix/Linux is very charismatic and obviously I also find it funny that two males are competing and then the lady takes the glory :-). The use of an old person would represent something that may be experienced, but not particularly up to date and modern. So, to some degree I disagree with you on that point. The challenge for Linux is to appeal to the masses and as the clip says at one point, Unix/Linux is always provided with the latest updates and trends by virtue of the open source model.
    Considering the article about child obscenity, I believe McDonald’s accusation of the video game industry is absolutely ridiculous. McDonald’s is one of the least healthy food providers and should just shut up on that point. However, I don’t think the video game industry introduced actively involving game features for the sake of avoiding obscenity, but rather to introduce new technologies and market it to families. By the provision of lots of social aspects such games consoles stand out from previous ones and promote various factors that outperform competitors: cheap, active, social and for the entire family.

    @Carole: I am glad I could provide you with some interesting information. I may have a look into the pharmaceutical industry at some point, but that requires much more research from me… but hopefully I’ll keep you entertained until that point!

  5. I think one of the the problems with marketing Linux is that there are so many flavours of Linux. There’s no point in marketing ‘Linux’, you have to market ‘MyLinux’. The most popular and most likely Linux flavour to become mainstream is Ubuntu but it’s not sold for profit and is primarily funded by a single individual, Mark Shuttleworth via Canonical Ltd. Other flavours of Linux are commercial, but none of them seriously looks like breaking onto grandma’s desktop very soon, nor do any major players seem to be interested in doing so (perhaps they are but the marketing isn’t good enough to have reached me – what’s Novell Linux?). The exception to this are OEM custom builds such as the Eee PC OS but in that case, it’s the machine that’s being marketed and not the OS. Whether a large commercial manufacturer will attempt to try or succeed in breaking into the mainstream desktop market by mass marketing a commercial Linux product remains to be seen but I don’t see any sign of this at the moment. This won’t happen at Canonical with Ubuntu since it’s free and funded by a benefactor even though it’s the most popular Linux flavour around and the closest to threaten to break into the mainstream. Therefore I think the situation with Ubuntu is a strange one and perhaps doesn’t fit into the usual marketing model. One wonders that, given this situation, will Ubuntu ever break into the mainstream? Can it be done by viral marketing alone? Or does a big player need to pick up Ubuntu or a close variant, and it give it a commercial makeover and sell it for £££?

  6. Hi Adam. That’s some interesting points you raise. To address the question of “what’s Novell Linux?”, check out http://www.novell.com/linux/ – SUSE Linux Enterprise is one of the big players in the Enterprise Class Linux distributions. Another being Redhat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). I guess the question is who are Novell trying to market to with their videos. I’m a big fan of open source, but it’s going to be (and has been) a long slow road. Linux has slowly crept into my home and office. At home it was Ubuntu (actually Xubuntu) that has taken over and at work I use more and more RHEL. I completely agree that right now it is the hardware manufacturers who are pushing Linux rather then the Linux distribution providers. I guess they like the fact that it’s open source and therefore much more readily customisable to their needs than Windows, like your ASUS Eee PC example. I’ve heard stories of Microsoft working very hard to keep the hardware guys onside, but maybe someone else out there knows more detail…

    The thing with Linux is that due to the licence it must be a free product. The distributions make their money from support and merchandising.

    Anyway, I think the slow evolution and adoption of Linux and other open source operating systems like OpenSolaris, Darwin (under the hood of Mac OS X) and BSD will continue and gain more and more traction as people get exposure to these operating systems and discover what they offer. Something else that will help the spread of the open source operating systems is the spread of open source software in general.

    However, coming back to the original posting, whilst I did find the Novell ad appealing and entertaining it didn’t really sell their product to me. On the other hand when I saw the Apple ads it struck me that they are doing a very good job of growing their share of the domestic computer market. I know a reasonable number of converts in the past few years and I can only think of one who went back to Windows, and that was purely on the basis of hardware cost. Apple make great products, they have something to market. Novell on the other hand are in a different market offering a broad range of “products” one of which is their Linux.

    Apple have done a very good job of making themselves and their product cool and I believe that there are only two things responsible for this: 1) Well designed products & 2) Excellent focused marketing and brand management.

  7. Hi Martin,

    Thanks for the response, you raise some very valid points. You mention that “SUSE Linux Enterprise is one of the big players in the Enterprise Class Linux distributions” – fair enough, although I think that is one of the major differences between marketing Linux and Windows/Mac. It seems to me (although I could be wrong) that the original Apple ad was primarily targetted at the home consumer rather than enterprises. So who are Novell aiming their ad at? The same consumer? If so, it would appear not to make much sense. Is a home user going to switch to Novell Linux and pay them for support etc? I suppose I’m just a bit confused by what they are trying to achieve with this ad.

  8. I couldn’t agree more! I think Novell were just looking to piggy-back off the success and status of the Apple ads. I don’t know this for a fact, but I don’t believe the Novell ad was ever run on television of part of a bigger program of promotion like the Apple ones. I guess, and this really is just a guess, that some at Novell figured that they could appeal to IT professionals by creating similar ads to those from Apple and is some respects “trumping” them. I imagine a pretty much pure “viral” approach to distribution, and the nature of the video means that the costs must have been minimal. I for one have taken a closer look at SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) as a result of the ads. As it happens I’ll probably stick to RHEL or more accurately in my case Oracle Enterprise Linux, but that’s because I work with other Oracle products.

  9. Hi Adam and Martin,

    I have to admit, some of your comments are way to technical for me and exceed my knowledge about software. But I find it very interesting to follow your conversation as I can learn a lot from you guys – thanks for that!
    With respect to the marketing side of the Novell ad I would say that their main aim is awareness creation. In the first clip they aim to inform that there even exists something called “Linux” out there and that it has a remarkable number of users already. Many people did not know about Linux before, but thanks to the popularity of the ad they learned something new. In the second ad, Novell advertise that it is compatible with both Mac and PC – which in my opinion is a further step to make people wonder: What is that Linux thing actually? I can imagine that some people out there got interested in Linux and did some further investigations. Is that not already some sort of success? The innovators and early adopters are already involved, it’s about spreading the message to the wide mass now.
    Unfortunately, I can not find any information about the ROI for Novell, but already the fact that people who are not experts like the two of you, associate Linux with Novell and Novell with cool ads – I think that is a nice achievement.

  10. It was definitely a good move by Novell to take the opportunity to promote off the back of Apple. As Adam has pointed out Ubuntu is proving to the most Home User friendly Linux distribution, so it’s a shame they didn’t see the opportunity and get in with an ad before Novell. ROI figures for Novell would definitely be interesting.

  11. […] and also the fact that others take advantage of the idea and use it for their own purposes (when two quarrel the third rejoices). Thanks to my brother my attention was drawn to an article in a Swiss newspaper that reports on a […]

  12. Never saw this video before… that’s a real good one – naturally for us guys 🙂

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