Microsoft Bing Launch at the Seattle Space Needle– call it BLING, not Bing!

The Space Needle is flooded in Orange light tonight, the color of Bing. A giant searchlight, reminding me of the Luxor, shone straight up the air for which the Microsoft spokesperson told me that they had to get a FAA permit to do.  We saw helicopters circling the Space Needle to capture the epic moment from all angles.  There were mimes posing as shopping carts, cyclists, nurses and patients, and searchers.  The open bar was fully stocked with premium liquor– even Patron.  Dozens of waiters whisked out salmon, chocolate cupcakes with BING printed on them and delicious goodies.  I estimate 400 people in attendance and close to $100k spent on just this event– facilities, catering, security, entertainment, alcohol, giveaways, and professional staff. What’s the measurable ROI on this?

According to AdAge, Microsoft has $80 million to $100 million budgeted for this launch, so this is only a tenth of one percent of their budget.  More appropriate would have been to bathe the Space Needle in green– the color of deep pockets that will invest heavily to market this new search engine– codenamed for the sound of “discovery”.  I personally think that they should have bought, when it was up for auction last month. But “BING” is a four-letter word– and you can tell folks to “Go BING Yourself!”, which is better than “Go Google Yourself!”

Do you remember when ValueJet went out of business because one of their jets blew up and killed all 105 passengers in 1997?  The day after the company went bankrupt, a new company named AirTran started.  Same staff, same planes, same everything– just repainted the jets to another color and gave it a new name.  Is this an apt analogy for Microsoft rebranding their search engine?  I gotta admit that BING is better than Kumo.

Microsoft is not ValueJet– not because operating systems can just reboot after crashing, but because Microsoft has deep talent in large-scale programmatic search.  That’s what the PR lady told me when I asked her. Their tools are coming along and are, unfortunately, being compared to Google at every turn.  Even if the technology is just as good, people will still prefer Google.

Thus, they are differentiating in LOCAL search – we are looking forward to working with the BING folks to offer a great solution to those 20 million small businesses in the US (not to mention the international opportunity).  It’s a market that Google and Yahoo! have not figured out.  Personally, when I was at Yahoo!, I was sad to see the company unable to grasp the opportunity that our internal market research was hitting us on the head with.

Mime station evidently depicts “local” searches

E-commerce mimes?

The entertainment director said he was on a “need-to-know basis” when we
asked what areas of search these other mimes actually represented.

Entering the venue at sunset

A shot outside as the crowd started to roll in

The row of terminals to test out the latest Bing technology. Rumor is porn
videos can be previewed from the search results page.

Mini-cupcakes topped with Bing-covered chocolates

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