In the first quarter of 2000, Sun Microsystems launched a Hollywood style marketing campaign to promote the e-commerce capabilities of their products. As early as 1982 the company was focussed upon selling distributed systems, but throughout the dot com mania of the 1990s they achieved little public recognition in this area. Perhaps there was a snazzier way to sell a new technological paradigm that would revolutionise a customer's organisation than the flat slogan The Network Is The Computer™, or the even more meaningless We are the Dot in Com™ ?

So some bright plug in marketing, who probably had earlier aspired to be the next Spielberg, thought up the idea of selling Sun Microsystem's products through the montage of a sci fi blockbuster, telling the exciting story of some incredible, irrepressible force in the form of a big black dot that emits forks of lightning and causes mayhem wherever it goes. On television, the Dot is this mysterious force that causes paper and dweeby looking cubicle dwellers to swirl and scatter in their office, while above in the board room the more senior members of the company see the Dot materialise in front of them (before it shoots of bolts of electricity at the board members, in a manner that suggests it enlightens rather than kills them). Looks impressive, but it is destined to be remembered as a kitchy reminder of the heady days just before the dot com crash.

In one print advert, harking back to the famous Jaws poster of 1975, a lone swimmer (this time a suit instead of a girl) is swimming along oblivious to the Dot speeding upwards from the depths below. The shark in the film is described as the ultimate eating machine, able to go wherever it wants, and this is precisely the metaphor Sun wanted to associate with its technology. As if that wasn't clear enough, the copy helped the reader get the message: With the Dot in .Com you know no boundaries, and your competition knows never to enter your waters

But after the dot com crash, Sun Microsystems chose a new slogan again, this time with no fanfare or Internet references - Take it to the Nth. I have no clue what this means; unless I am mistaken, they have taken a hackneyed catch phrase and substituted the word 'limit' with something related to mathematical notation (not likely to be understood, even after four coffees, but after April 2000 nobody was buying servers anyway).

Keep old copies of the advertisement and other premiums. One day they will be worth a mint.

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