by Shane O'Neill

Microsoft Markets IE8 While Feeding the Hungry

Jun 11, 20092 mins
Data Center

Microsoft's Web ad campaign for Internet Explorer 8 will raise money for hunger relief. Oh yeah, Bobcat Goldthwait is involved.

The Microsoft advertising train just keeps a rollin’. In the past few months we’ve seen The Laptop Hunters, the “It’s Everybody’s Business” spots for businesses, and the Bing TV commercials challenging Google.

Now we have something a little unexpected: a Web campaign for Internet Explorer 8 starring television actor Dean Cain, best known for playing Superman in the early ’90s show “Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.” The videos are directed by … Bobcat Goldthwait? Shakes the Clown? That’s right. You couldn’t make this stuff up.

Actor Dean Cain in Microsoft’s “Browser for the Better” ad campaign.

What’s also a little unexpected about the “Browser for the Better” campaign, which runs from today until August 8, 2009, is that it’s not self-serving business as usual for Microsoft. The company has joined with hunger relief charity Feeding America to donate the financial equivalent of eight meals to over 200 food banks every time a download of Internet Explorer 8 is completed.

The Browser for the Better campaign commenced on June 10 in both New York and San Francisco. Artists in each city did sculptures of the Empire State Building and the Golden Gate Bridge, respectively. The sculptures will be donated to the Food Bank for New York City, City Harvest in New York and the San Francisco Food Bank, all members of Feeding America.

The “viral videos” part of the campaign featuring Cain are good for a laugh, as they portray the struggles of modern browsing with elaborate acronyms like SHYNESS (sharing heavily yet not enough sharing still) and FOMS (fear of missing something).

Cain’s deadpan delivery is a Maxwell Smart send-up. He displays some good comic timing playing a doofus professor/lawyer/detective (they could have defined his character better) who comments on the sorry state of browsing and how IE8 features like Web Slices and Accelerators are the solutions to all our browsing woes.

Why is Microsoft putting such marketing muscle behind IE8? Well, the browser’s market share has been slipping each month for at least a year now as Firefox, Apple’s Safari and Google’s Chrome slowly make gains.

We’ll see if charity and humor are the right approach to get IE back its lost market share.