October 30, 2006

the blue monster

[Landscape: click on image to enlarge etc.]

[UPDATE: To see all the cartoons in The Blue Monster Series, click here. To get the Blue Monster printed on a business card, go here.]

I just designed this poster for my buddies over at Microsoft [you know who you are]. Feel free to download the high-res version by clicking on the image, and print it out onto whatever- posters, t-shirts etc [My regular licensing terms are here].

I've been told by Stormhoek that if the poster gets enough traction within Microsoft and its extended family, we'll consider doing a signed, limited-edition lithograph of it as well. [UPDATE: The signed lithographs have arrived. Steve Clayton reports.]

[Portrait: click on image to enlarge etc.]

The headline works on a lot of different levels:

Microsoft telling its potential customers to change the world or go home.
Microsoft telling its employees to change the world or go home.
Microsoft employees telling their colleagues to change the world or go home.
Everybody else telling Microsoft to change the world or go home.
Everyone else telling their colleagues to change the world or go home.
And so forth.
Microsoft has seventy thousand-odd employees, a huge percentage them very determined to change the world, and often suceeding. And millions of customers with the same idea.

Basically, Microsoft is in the world-changing business. If they ever lose that, they might as well all go home.

I chose the monster image simply because I always thought there is something wonderfully demonic about wanting to change the world. It can be a force for the good, of course, if used wisely. It's certainly a very loaded part of the human condition, but I suppose that's what makes it compelling.

Anyway, Redmond, I hope you like. Feel free to drop me a line, if you have any feedback. Thanks.

[UPDATE: 24th January 24, 2007:]


[VIDEO:] Microsoft's Steve Clayton talks about the Blue Monster cartoon. My evil plan finally goes public! Rock on.

[Blue Monster video on YouTube.]

The Blue Monster was designed as a conversation starter. To paraphrase the ongoing dialogue between Steve and I:

For too long, Microsoft has allowed other people- the media, the competition and their detractors, especially- to tell their story on their behalf, instead of doing a better job of it themselves.

We firmly believe that Microsoft must start articulating their story better- what they do, why they do it, and why it matters- if they're to remain happy and prosperous long-term.

If they can do this, well, we don't expect people in their millions to magically start loving Microsoft overnight, but perhaps it might get people- including the people who work there- to start thinking differently. Small moves.

[Afterthought:] Granted, none of this is rocket science. But maybe that's Microsoft's main problem.

[Disclosure: gapingvoid is more evil than Microsoft. Just so you know.]

Posted by hugh macleod at October 30, 2006 1:25 PM | TrackBack

I'd give this to my friends at Microsoft Philippines, but they'd take it the wrong way. :P

Posted by: Mike Abundo at October 30, 2006 2:35 PM

I love it, however I do most of my work from home. Does this mean I can't change the world?

I'll keep my eye out for it around MS campus.

Posted by: Josh Santangelo at October 30, 2006 3:40 PM

It's a good, motivating sentiment. If only I hadn't seen despair.com's demotivator's, I might like it! Is that a picture of a typical Windows systems administrator?

Anyway, from where I'm standing (one of the largest private companies in the world, 3000 windows servers, 100,000 windows desktops) Microsoft looks like it's in the commodities business. Have you ever tried patching that many computers? Is that world changing in the right direction? Or is it destroying lives and marriages? Oh wait, IT people don't have lives and marriages?! WRONG!!

Sure, go ahead and change the world. Nobody ever got fired for buying Microsoft (now why does that sound familiar ..... !)

Posted by: Mike Peter Reed at October 30, 2006 4:51 PM

I think the world is changing itself - I'd call it Opensoft with no gates and (almost) no bills

Microsoft just jumped on the bandwagon and now don't know how to find their way home


Posted by: James Thomson at October 30, 2006 4:59 PM

i really like the cartoon.

the flow of comments, well, how predictable, really. isn't this time to hate Google and Apple already? MSFT is soooo last year guys.

Posted by: treespotter at October 30, 2006 7:03 PM

I'm not a in marketing, so what do I know, but does Microsoft really have the sense of humor to be associated with a demon? All that evil-empire, anti-trust, not seeing the humor in the pie-in-the-face thing? I can definitely see the "Microsoft telling their employees to change the world or go home," though and that whole thing would look fetching on the food service trucks that are on campus.

Posted by: Holly at October 30, 2006 7:05 PM

brown noser.

but what the hell, go for it.

Posted by: Jswa at October 31, 2006 2:49 AM

It should have said "Ship Vista..."


Posted by: Robert Scoble at October 31, 2006 5:20 AM

it's now on the walls in Thames Valley Park :)

Posted by: steve clayton at October 31, 2006 8:32 AM

hey Hugh, what constitutes "enough traction" here?

Robert - if it said "Ship Vista" it would be out of date pretty soon dude :)

Posted by: steve clayton at October 31, 2006 3:53 PM

I think they stopped changing the world around six years ago...

Posted by: Peter Morgan at November 1, 2006 4:57 PM

I love the image - I've already seen it on Campus

Posted by: Steve Lamb at November 1, 2006 8:54 PM

Did the world. On to the Universe.

Posted by: Keith Combs at November 2, 2006 5:42 AM

too-shay, keith ;-)

Posted by: hugh macleod at November 2, 2006 6:52 PM

On my first day on the C# team, there was a picture of Darth Vader welcoming me to the Empire scrawled on my whiteboard.

At the end of our hallway is Elvis, who goes through more costume changes than Amidala (including Darth Vader and a cowboy at different times).

Posted by: kfarmer at November 10, 2006 6:18 AM

they should try to prt their software to internet. And forget changing the world

Posted by: chakpak at November 13, 2006 5:30 PM

Is this also supposed to be a dig at bluescreens? Either way, love your work, glad you're changing the world!

Posted by: Jen at January 24, 2007 9:36 AM

This apply to google even more.

Posted by: AGRADA at January 26, 2007 1:33 AM

I love the poster, and it will be in my office today in the morning. This is the feeling that I have every morning, when working with the great people who works in Micrsoft. Whatever the anti-microsoft community says, it doesn't matter; We are there to change and challenge the world again and again and again!!!!

Posted by: Ricardo at January 29, 2007 12:12 PM

I'd modify the cartoon to say "Microsoft: respect your customers or go home!"

I'm pulling for people like Steve Clayton and Ricardo, btw. They will improve this company -- it certainly needs improvement.

Posted by: blahzik at February 20, 2007 6:12 AM

More than self-congratulatory hyperbole?

Posted by: Simon at February 22, 2007 10:58 AM

"More than self-congratulatory hyperbole?"

If that is all I was trying to create, Simon, I would have executed it MUCH differently ;-)

Posted by: hugh macleod at February 22, 2007 2:50 PM

Love it. It`s pure genius marketing.
Love how the slogan works in so many differant ways

Posted by: Leffi at March 28, 2007 10:19 PM

Is "Too-shay" as in "Par-tay"? and when has different been errm, differant?

Posted by: Mon-day at April 2, 2007 5:08 AM

nice to see microsoft responding. it would be even nicer if i could actually see it...

can't get microsoft media player to install on my mac. perhaps its just me. :-|

Posted by: Thomas Holmes at April 5, 2007 11:57 AM

Am I the only one who see's the Mr Hell resemblance? The original pilot Mr Hell rather than the more slick TV series Mr Hell.

Posted by: Matt Sims at April 5, 2007 3:30 PM

Brilliant. bloody brilliant.

Posted by: Kendall at April 7, 2007 2:50 AM

I just find this kind of weird. I'm new to this site, but everything seems to talk about how stupid, backwards, and screwed every company is..... and yet here is this project for Microsoft. I guess they 'get it' but everyone else is doomed.

Posted by: Perry at April 18, 2007 4:03 PM

"This apply to google even more." Right, if changing the world = improving Web search enough to put libraries and yellow pages out of business...and providing free, feature-crippled versions of Microsoft products online. But even such feats are overshadowed by the profound social impact of uber-innovative (and anti-evil) Apple Inc.'s white vs. black plastic!

Posted by: Lindsey at April 18, 2007 9:23 PM

No mention whatsoever about changing the world *for the better*??? I'd rather they just disappear.

Posted by: Matteo at April 22, 2007 2:29 PM

"Change the world to suit Matteo's stringent definition of 'for the better' or go home".... Not sure if it has quite the same ring to it ;-)

Posted by: hugh macleod at April 22, 2007 3:01 PM

The things MS does to tell its own story:

-Channel 9 & Channel 10
-MSDN & TechNet
-PDC, TechEd, MiX, etc.
-every magazine article or book an MS employee writes or reviews
-every blog post, public forum email or USENET post an MS employee writes

It used to be that the only folks that told the real story for MS were the Developer's Relational Group (the famous "DRG"), but those days are gone and every single MS employee is now empowered to tell their story in a huge number of MS-supported venues.

That's not to say that we always have the right stories or even that we all agree on the stories we're telling, but we're sure telling the hell out of the stories we've got.

Posted by: Chris Sells at May 15, 2007 6:38 PM

Believe me it is the "first bouncer" from Google to Microsoft.But Ya its true its a nasty one .But i believe that Microsoft can really come back with a bang.If they change their attitude from "Being Evil"-- monopolistic to "Don't be evil"
Guys Check out my Google Spirit guys

Posted by: karthikeyan at May 18, 2007 4:02 PM

The funny thing is Microsoft has never been a world changer in the true sense of the term. World changers invent things, create things - they don't merely modify or acquire things. World changers swim against the current, cut against the grain, do things differently. Microsoft has never done this. I will give them credit for doing one thing really well, they are consistently the best marketer of copied ideas. What surprises me the most is that their copied ideas are successful on a mass level even though they are almost always very late to market.

Posted by: J2 at May 20, 2007 4:24 PM

How about "Shamelessly rip off Apple some more on our way home."

Posted by: Sam at May 21, 2007 7:43 PM

Yeah, BIG problem here Hugh. Change the world, not "improve the world". Change the world has already happened for Microsoft. And change can be truly awful - DRM and such. A great idea, but the wording? Gives me nothing but a feeling of dread.

Posted by: JT at May 21, 2007 8:01 PM

Two words: User Experience.
Apple understands it better than any other software or hardware company. Google understands it better than anyone in the information business. Adobe understands it better than most companies producing creative software. All three know that understanding the user's needs is one of the most critical keys to success, and spend far more time and money on this than most people realize. They've hired the best people in the world to work for them, and it shows.

Microsoft has consistently ignored this critical aspect to doing business in the modern age, and they're finally starting to pay the price for developing unoriginal products that repeatedly kick their users in the crotch.
It's not that MS is evil, it's mainly just that they've never paid enough attention to the very thing that has made these other companies so successful. Sure, they may throw the term "user experience" around as it becomes more and more widely used, and will probably even try to trademark and license it at some point. At the end of the day, though, their products will continue to be as unreliable, counterintuitive, and infuriating to use as they've always been.

In my opinion, Microsoft is gradually becoming more and more irrelevant in a world where truly innovative companies understand user experience, and that's why they're starting to freak out. It's Microsoft's well-founded insecurity that drives campaigns like this.

How about: "Microsoft: It's not what the user does. It's what the software does."

Posted by: Bert at May 22, 2007 7:25 AM

Bert - we heard you. Two words back, Microsoft Expression.

Posted by: steve clayton at May 29, 2007 11:40 PM

Bert - Apple and Google with the UI fanboy comments, okay, I may disagree but I can see where you are coming from... But Adobe? Are you kidding? Acrobat and Photoshop have the steepest learning curves of any creative application I've used! What sells them is that they are (A) very powerful and (B) industry standard.

Posted by: Tim at June 12, 2007 2:01 PM

Check this out!

Posted by: Danny_pb at June 13, 2007 11:35 AM

I think you are very creative and artistic, Hugh. I like that. I love business cards...I have quite a collection. Gotta say, all those teeth on that Blue Monster make me think it wants to eat up the world.... There's this movie...The Langoliers - book by Stephen King where similarly shaped but more rounded objects do just that...eat up the world.....can't shake it....but I'm trying to think out of the box....gotta say you got me thinking...thinking, thinking....man it's hard to think out of the box......darn! that Langoliers movie image just won't die... I found a youtube excerpt..... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ui1Gixpx1cI&mode=related&search= .I like making odd connections... filling the gap so to speak.....:)

Posted by: Maria at June 30, 2007 6:05 AM


Now that I'm packing up my family and leaving little old NZ behind to join MS, I for one will definitely be attempting to live the Blue Monster mantra...


Posted by: Alex James at July 20, 2007 4:46 AM