How many marketing folks does it take to...

by Chris Williams

The official launch of Visual Studio 2005, SQL Server 2005 and Biztalk 2006 was today. We know this because King Steve, the Ballmerian, gave a rather dry 90 minute presentation on the subject.

That's not what this post is about, although it is on a related topic. You see, my local user group... excuse me, I mean my local .NET user group, volunteered to host a community launch event.

Microsoft & INETA (that's the International .NET Association) sent out a letter to all the UGs (that's a hip abbreviation for User Group) asking if we wanted to be a part of this momentous occasion. In return for participating, we would get a boatload of free swag to give away, and lots of support (wink wink) from Microsoft to make it a big success.

We were all asked to submit our community launch dates months ago, and most of us dutifully complied. I say most of us, because I really rather doubt that we ALL complied, but I did, so hey...

We were then assured (assured, I say) that we would receive oodles of training, and materials to make this a big success. We were to nominate a launch event presenter to take this training and in return, we would receive 6 copies of Visual Studio 2005, SQL Server 2005 and Biztalk 2006 (1 for the presenter and 5 to give away). We would also receive 6 exam vouchers (again 1 for the presenter and 5 to give away.)

Now, let me just pause and ask if you really think I would be writing all of this if things were going smoothly?

Needless to say (and yet I say it anyway), things are not going as advertised. Our Communiy Launch Event is in 3 days, and we just received our "kit" today. The kit consisted of a really cool looking box, some balloons, a tshirt that is two sizes too small for ANYONE in my UG and a pretty flashy banner.

There were also 4 DVDs which we are expected to burn copies of (at UG expense) for each attendee. (I feel compelled to mention at this point that we have 46 people signed up to attend.)

Last of all, and most importantly, there was a letter stating that all the other stuff that was supposed to be in the box was not, in fact, in the box. That's right, no swag. No NFR (Not For Resale) products, no exam vouchers, NADA, ZIP, Zero, Zilch...

It was approximately 4:45 this afternoon when I uttered a string of expletives so long and profane that the nearby Naval Station decided to take the rest of the day off.

So... with less than 3 days remaining, I have to make 46 copies of these attendee DVDs and come up with a fairly compelling reason not to drive to Redmond and scream at someone until blood vessels start bursting.

I also have to come up with some nifty vouchers for the free swag we promised our attendees that some of them would go home with... and nifty excuses like "I'm sorry, Mr. This is my first AND LAST UG meeting, we'll be sure to mail your swag to you. No we didn't lie, Microsoft screwed us over."

You see the problem here is that MS (that's a hip abbreviation for Microsoft) already has a black eye the size of Montana in most circles. Most people don't have a clue who INETA is, and this isn't their fault anyway. BUT... it's the UG leaders who really end up looking like jerks.

So thanks guys... and gals... If I ever needed a reason to dislike or distrust the almighty marketing machine, I've got one now.

Oh and no offense meant to the great state of Montana. I'm sure it's a lovely place to live. Please excuse me while I change the DVD in my burner, only 42 more to go.

Feel free to comment. Talk amongst yourselves, I'm getting verklempt...


2005-11-07 18:43:53
ah, how the mighty have fallen
Microsoft used to give away the best swag, bar none. My co-workers would come back from Comdex (remember Comdex?) loaded to the gunwales with great-quality backpacks, software, jackets, nice pens, Leatherman multi-tools, paperweights with built-in magnifiers... the flow of loot was endless. Totally worth our employer spending about $6k per head to send them there. :)

How sad it is, now that they are rolling in more money that the world has ever seen, that they have gotten frugal with the swag. Very sad indeed.

2005-11-07 23:10:43
ah, how the mighty have fallen
Was this Microsoft themselves screwing up, INETA, or a 3rd party hired to handle the actual distribution of the goodies?

Wouldn't be the first time some external party nicked the goodies and put a nice letter on the stationary of the company they were handling matters for in the box (if that much).

2005-11-08 03:41:24
ah, how the mighty have fallen
I don't think it was INETA, I know most of the folks involved at that level and they are just as frustrated as I am.