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Even Buick Is Kicking Microsoft's Butt

By: Rocco Pendola | 08/16/14 - 09:30 AM EDT

Stocks in this article: MSFTGMAAPL

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Whenever I see Buick (a division of General Motors (GM) ) television ads, I cringe. The idea that somebody younger than what we have come to know as the typical Buick customer would buy one of their cars just because GM tells us cute girls with blue hair drive them doesn't resonate. At least not with me.

But then I thought about it more. And took a look at the sales figures. And compared what Buick is doing with Microsoft's (MSFT) lame marketing. Suddenly, it all started to make sense.

First, a Buick spot that's probably better than the blue-haired girl one and is representative of the brand's campaign to lower the average age of its consumer:

Second, the numbers: Buick sales in the U.S. up 18% year-over-year as of June. Up 14% in China. Buick Encore (that's the utility crossover vehicle that comes between a car and SUV) sales up 82% compared to June 2013. Buick's success with the Encore provides the best comparison to Microsoft's feeble attempts to take on Apple (AAPL) with the Surface tablet. You can learn a lot about top decision makers in companies by looking at their marketing.

At Buick, there was/is a clear path. We need to appeal to younger car buyers. We see where the market is going so we'll build and brand vehicles that not only ride but lift that tide. That's exactly what the Encore does. Alongside this theme, Buick either ditched or reimagined its stodgy fleet. The approach has worked; Buick is a bright spot during relatively turbulent times at General Motors.

Meantime, at Microsoft, Steve Ballmer conceived this device -- the Surface tablet -- to be the all-in-one computing machine consumers never asked for. And new CEO Satya Nadella appears to have no problem following in the footsteps of his predecessor's ineptitude.

Details on Page Two -- read them before you (not you, but a small handful of tortured souls) go into denial and defense mode ...

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Rocco Pendola writes for TheStreet. He lives in Santa Monica. Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors, reporters and analysts from holding positions in any individual stocks.

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