Last week Microsoft announced the retirement Mich Mathews, the company’s marketing chief for the last ten years, saying she would be saying with the company through the end of the summer. Nonetheless, Microsoft has wasted no time naming her successor: 20-year Microsoft vet Chris Capossela will take over as senior vice president of Microsoft’s Consumer Channels and Central Marketing Group, meaning he will be responsible for all of Microsoft’s public relations, marketing, and advertising.
Capossela was most recently senior VP for Microsoft’s Office division, and played a role in beginning to transition Microsoft’s core productivity apps to the Web and a software-as-a-service platform. Before that, Capossela held a number of positions in Microsoft, including leading the Microsoft Project business and serving as Bill Gates’ speech assistant. It was during that gig that Capossela potentially got his most public exposure: Capossela managed to blue-screen a Windows 98 system during a Bill Gates speech at Comdex in 1998, just by plugging in a scanner. Plug-and-pray, indeed.
Although Microsoft has risen to become one of the world’s most-recognizable brands—and the company made several big moves, including buying aQuantive for some $6 billion. Nonetheless, the company’s advertising execution has had more than a few hiccups, including the “I’m a PC” campaign and the bewildering Seinfeld TV spots that were part of the company’s $300 million campaign to promote Windows Vista. Capossela will have his work cut out for him to promote Microsoft products and services as more than the lowest common denominator of the digital age.