Linux doesn't have much in the way of advertising. While Apple's wonderful "I'm a Mac" TV ad campaign is famous, and Microsoft's Bill Gates/Jerry Seinfeld ads are infamous, Linux really doesn't have anything. Now, the Linux Foundation is trying to change that with it's "We're Linux" Video Contest.
The winning designer will get a free trip to Tokyo, Japan to participate in the Linux Foundation Japan Linux Symposium in October 2009. The Linux Foundation doesn't have the money for a major, or for that matter even a minor, television advertising campaign. But, at the very least, the winning ad will get some news and online exposure for both the winner and Linux.
I'm not a judge on the committee that will decide the winner, but I do know a little bit about both Linux and marketing. So, here are my seven favorite picks in the contest. I tried, I really did, to cut the list to five, but I couldn't do it. It was hard enough to get to seven.
Whether the committee will like these is a mystery to me. We'll all find out together at the Linux Foundation's Collaboration Summit in San Francisco on April 8, 2009.
Before launching into this, let me start by saying that these are all a bit rough. If someone were to come along with a few million to run them on the major television networks, they'd need to re-shoot them. So, when you look at these, don't think you're going to see something that looks like the "I'm a Mac" campaign. You're not.
7) Soy un PC y uso Linux. In English, this is "I'm a PC, and I run Linux." It was filmed at the Open Source World Conference 2008 Málaga, Spain, and just shows a variety of people saying the line in all their different languages. It's simple, but it works.
There were several ads that played with the theme of looking at all the different kinds of people who use Linux. Another ad pointed out that people of all ages can use Linux. This one, though, just caught my fancy. It's just real people of all kinds and sorts from all manner of places saying that Linux is for them. Thumbs up from me.
6) I'm Linux. The most polished of the "I'm Linux" ads, and the one that's closest to being production ready, came from Page One Public Relations. Page One, for those of you who don't know them, is perhaps the most open-source savvy of all the PR firms. After all, one of its chief partners, Lonn Johnston, is a former VP of North American operations for Turbolinux.
Besides touching on the theme of We're All Linux Users, from the personal side, the ad also riffs on the numerous services, like Google, and products, like the TiVo, that do indeed make all of us Linux users.
5) I'm not Linux, Version 3. This is just a video of a guy talking about Linux. Usually, this kind of thing is pretty dull, but with multiple scene changes, this one works. You can tell he means what he's saying and I like his tag-line: "I'm not Linux, Linux is me."
4) And if Da Vinci ... So if Leonardo da Vinci had had Linux, what would he do? This is nicely done. Come to think of it, if da Vinci were alive today, I think he would be using Linux. I also like this video's tag-line: "What if YOU used it?"
3) Challenges at the Office. This is another ad that's close to being able to be shown "as is" on network television. The premise, two office mates playing rock, paper, scissors, Linux. (Watch it, you'll see how it works) is fun and it's well executed. It's also a good ad for a mainstream audience, since it doesn't assume you know anything about Linux and, within a minute, makes two good points on why you might want to consider it.
2) Linux Pub. This is, to my mind, the funniest of all the videos. A dying PC is rushed to the emergency room, and - on no! - it's not going to make it. But then, a Linux penguin charges in to save the day. Good silly fun.
1) Be Linux. Two words: Flying penguins. It's high-concept. It's stirring. It's funny. And, it makes its point with a great tag-line: "Imagine a place where everyone can fly: Be Linux." IBM? Red Hat? Novell? You've got the money. This ad, this ad works. If I had a multi-million dollar ad budget, this is the one I'd be showing.
ADDITION: I'm vexed to report that the video from my #1 ad was lifted from a BBC ad by Terry Jones. I still like the ad, but credit where credit's due and fiormer Monty Pythoner Jones was the one who came up with the videography.
Finally, I can't finish this tale without mentioning the best video I've ever seen for Linux, or for any other technology for that matter. It's much too long to be an ad spot, but Red Hat's Truth Happens is a must watch for anyone who likes Linux, or, wants to see a perfect match between video, words, and concept.