Ad of the Day: Internet Explorer

A troll finds his softer side in new spot for Microsoft's browser

Hey look, it’s an Internet troll, getting all troll-ish on Microsoft. Because what better target is there for a geeky bully than a bloated legacy tech company with sub-par products. But wait. This isn’t just your average troll (you know, those Internet commenters that deliberately try to start wars on comment boards). This is a troll with heart.

Also, this troll is an ad for Microsoft. Specifically, it’s an ad for Internet Explorer 10, and the latest in its "Browser You Loved to Hate" campaign. Because really, IE isn’t as bad as all the haters say it is. Even though they're all just weird obsessive types holed up in their rooms with lava lamps and plasma globes (remember the '90s?) and other nerdy shut-in paraphernalia. You see, those haters have their heads stuck in the past, when the browser really did suck.

But this is the present, where tech blogs are laying some praise on IE 10, and also, where it's really not cool to be mean on the Internet anymore, bro. Why don't you go look at a picture of some kittens or something and cheer up.

The ad is getting some nods for admitting that Microsoft still has a problem, like it's the beginning of a 12-step program for a floundering mega-corporation. It is a lot better than the similarly themed and decidedly awful spot Microsoft put out earlier this year to promote IE 9. In that flop, the brand’s messenger was a too gawky dweeb. He was also literally psychotic, and less than trustworthy—simultaneously declaring the browser to be good and his cat to be a policewoman.

By contrast, this ad is slickly produced, and pretty nicely written. The villain is easy to hate, but human enough to grow. The spot is still, at its core, dismissive of the browser's detractors, arguing in not so many words that you'd have to be a little bit crazy to not like IE 10. But the fact that reviewers are finding the browser actually has something to offer (albeit on tablets running Microsoft’s own Windows 8, like the Surface) probably doesn’t hurt its cause. Nor does the fact that it takes a somewhat lighter touch than the earlier work—it steers clear of downright insulting, and the kicker allows that the brand still has a ways to go on the perception front. That’s generally a better approach than burying one’s head in the sand.