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Microsoft UK/Ricky Gervais viral videos – are they real?

I originally started writing this blog post with the title “When training budgets go large”.

I began with an anecdote about working in ‘Corporate Culture’, and how such corporations always have ridiculous budgets for crazy projects and that they always make their staff attend corporate training events. And my personal experiences of when the to colide.

I was writing this in response to watching two videos produced for a ‘Microsoft UK training event’ by Ricky Gervais an Stephen Merchant as their characters from The Office. Apparently they have been ‘leaked onto Google Video’ (here and here – note the in inverted commas, by the way)

“Isn’t it crazy that they decided to spend their money on this?” I proclaimed. “Wow, Gervais couldn’t have been cheap, either. Ha Ha Ha.”, etc.

It also bought back memories of similar BBC videos (which invariably involve similar celebrities because they have the contacts with the BBC I guess).

But then I stopped and thought about it. Something wasn’t right. This actually didn’t bring anything to a training event – it wasn’t a clever combination of corporate rhetoric mixed with comedy. It was just comedy.

At the end, the video credited a bunch of people and ‘Creative Direction’. I googled searched ‘Creative Direction Microsoft‘ and discovered that ‘Creative Direction’ is a marketing and PR company.

Sure, maybe this had nothing to do with them, maybe ‘Creative Direction’ was an internal Microsoft department which wouldn’t have a public presence. However Creative Direction is based in Thames Valley (near MS UK HQ) and their front page has Ricky Gervais on it.

Why would a marketing and PR company be producing an internal training video?

Is this a clever public marketing campaign – and if so what was it supposed to achieve? It can’t have been cheap yet I can’t see what it’s trying to sell.

Microsoft, as a company, doesn’t need an awareness push in the UK. And whilst I remembered that MS are about to launch a new version of Office – an ‘a ha’ moment… I then sadly realised that it’s not due out yet and there was nothing, even subtle, to connect these videos to the product.

So by linking to these two videos I am unintentionally pushing some Microsoft product I guess. Well, here goes:

Microsoft UK/Office video #1 ~ Microsoft UK/Office video #2

If you know what the product is, or more about these videos, let me know.

Two funny quotes from the video that are particularly apt about the subject matter:

“Residential training events are great because you get a night off from the wife and kids. Or if you work in Software Engineering, a night off from your mum and nan.”


“What I would say to these engineering dweebs: too much thinking makes Jack a mental case. That’s what turned Stephen Hawkins mad.”

Love it.

Published in News


  1. Click on the marketing award button on Creative Direction’s website (or go to and you get a precis of the camapign they did with Gervais and Microsoft – it was an internal comms campaign:

    “Buoyed by the involvement of Ricky Gervais, creator of The Office, two special 15-minute videos based loosely on the sitcom were filmed. These centred on the ‘Office Values’ philosophy and created a make believe interview experience with Brent and his writing partner as a Microsoft employee.”

  2. Ben Ben

    Yeah… but why did they do this???!?!?!?


  3. Ben Ben

    From the site:

    The creative theme and roll-out strategy by agency Creative Direction Consultants ensured this ethos was communicated to employees and was defined in three stages:

    Third, a compulsory education programme was introduced to ensure all staff understood the proposition.


    Now I remember why corporate culture sucks. Compulsory education programme. Grrrr

  4. Why did they do it? Because people with a communications budget like to spend it. Microsoft’s not exactly scratching around down the back of the sofa for spare change.

    And if they leaked it on purpose, wouldn’t the point be to associate MS with something slightly more popular. Brand association… it’s not really rocket science.

  5. Ben Ben

    Hey Bobbie.

    I hear what you’re saying but for me it’s just too disconnected to really provide any positive reinforcement.

    Me, watching some David Brent thing set in Microsoft, doesn’t come close to changing any opinions about Microsoft either way.

    Maybe you’re right, and that is just it. But if it is then I think they’ve done badly, and doing a similar tie in with the IT Crowd or Nathern Barley would be more appropriate and give some better traction IMHO.


  6. James James

    more to the point – haven’t Gervais/Merchant made enough money without having to suck mocrosoft cock?

  7. Wow James. Pretty strong words when they are in the industry and are having fun doing their jobs. I seem to be missing the microsoft connection here with your issue. πŸ˜‰

  8. group laughter at awaydays and training is a great way to relax people so they can open their minds for learning. it’s good for team building too. πŸ˜‰

  9. Did you ever see the video of Napolean Dynamite and Bill Gates? A classic!

  10. James James

    Hi Ray,

    My issue is one of Artistic integrity.

    Gervais/Merchant are being paid by Microsoft to promote Microsoft.

    IHMO they have compromised themselves.

  11. Charlie Charlie

    These videos were shot before google video even existed, they are typical of Microsoft big spend internal comms. They were only ever for internal use and they certainly did not pay enough for them to be distributed to an external audience

  12. Ben Ben

    Hi Charlie,

    Are you able to corroborate you last comment? How do you know this or is this speculation?


  13. James, so all people in adverts have compromised themselves?

  14. “Me, watching some David Brent thing set in Microsoft, doesn’t come close to changing any opinions about Microsoft either way.”

    But that’s kind of missing the point Ben – they weren’t intended to “change your opinion”. They were internal marketing, designed to appeal to MS UK employees.

    It looks like an internal campaign. It smells like an internal campaign. It’s referred to as an internal campaign. Could it maybe just be… an internal campaign?

  15. james james

    Ray, those that don’t need the money and who will tailor their humour to a Microsoft brief = YES

  16. James, you are not making sense. Somehow the fact that they might not need the money (you can’t even say this) means nothing if it is something that they enjoy doing.

    If the job description is “to tailor thei humour to a Microsoft brief” and it was for internal use only, what is the problem?

  17. This is cool as I have been working with a David Brent lookalike, Tim Oliver, and over the last week have noticed my videos on Sky Rocket.

    Until tonight, when a friend mentioned the Microsoft training videos, I could not work out why in the last week I have had over 1500 people download/view one of my videos. I have also now put the videos I did on and they have well pushed up my bandwidth.

    It’s all cool and good news for Tim Oliver – David Brent lookalike – although he has been so busy he chooses to avoid calling me to thank me for spending hours editing video just to promote him. Not a ******* word of thanks from him. Boy has he got so into character. He is just like a real life David Brent unfortunately.

  18. james james

    Ray – As i said before I have very strong beliefs with regards to Artistic Integrity

    Gervais/Merchant have lowered themselves in my eyes.

    If you have differing opinions on the matter – then thats fine.

    Please respect my views and refrain from personal attacks accusing me of “not making any sense”

    It makes prefect sence to me!

  19. James, accusing you of not making sense is not a personal attack – it’s an attack on your line of argument. There is a very important difference.

    More relevant to this, though, is the fact that these were noted in NTK two years ago –

    And even made it to the BBC Comedy blog –

    But then, on the internet, no one knows that you’re dragging up the same meme again (or that you’re a dog)

  20. Deference to article author, some fantastic entropy.

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