Thursday, October 14, 2010

Great Moments in Marketing: Is this the worst commercial ever?

Crispin, Porter + Bogusky  has just released the initial commercial for Microsoft's new Windows Phone 7, and it may be the worst ad in the company's history, which is a pretty impressive feat when you consider it had to top such campaigns as "Windows 7 was my idea", the print campaign that portrayed anyone who didn't leap to buy the latest version of Office as - literally - dinosaurs,  and the epically disastrous spots that attempted to make Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld a comedic tag team.

Windows Phone 7 is by all accounts an absolutely adequate product, which kind of falls short of what you need when your smart phone market share is plummeting and your competitors - primarily Apple and Google's Android - are eating your lunch.  Clearly, something major is required to reverse this trend.

Which brings us to the Crispin spot.  Big, undoubtedly.  Textbook awful, oh yeah.  What makes this ad so bad?  Let me count the ways:

1.  It's trying to sell smart phones by ridiculing people who are devoted to smart phones.
2.  It's trying to sell smart phones to an imagined class of consumers who aren't the people being ridiculed, in other words, people who have an aversion to the entire category of smart phones.  Really? How big of a market is this?
3.  Apparently ad agencies know of only four pieces of classical music:
a.  the Dies Irae from the Verdi Requiem.
b.  O Fortuna from Orff's Carmina Burana
c.  The Aquarium from Saint-Saens' Carnival of the Animals
d.  and the big winner - slathered onto the Crispin spot - In the Hall of Mountain King, from Grieg's Peer Gynt.  Could we please retire all of these, please?  From movie trailers, too, if possible.
4.  Is that really the grand staircase of the Paris Opera, enlisted for a slapstick middle-aged-lady-falling-down-the-stairs sequence?  The surest sign of an impoverished concept is a blank-check expensive,  overproduced spot, overpopulated with vignettes that, even when individually funny and engaging, don't match in tone and don't progress in any kind of dramatic arc - just a laundry list of ideas dumped together.
5.  The final tagline, "It's time for a phone to save us from our phones - designed to get you in and out and back to life," is never explained. 

How exactly is Windows Phone 7, even in future spots, supposed to substantiate the campaign's premise?  No report I've seen claims the OS is faster than its competitors.  I'm sure the cellular companies Microsoft are depending on to push phones running their new Windows 7 OS are overjoyed that it's being promoted as a way of cutting back the minutes users buy.

The final shot is of a young man in a restaurant finally able to focus on his lovely date, because he's left his cell phone sitting on the table.  Problem is, you can just as easily set an iPhone or a Droid on the table, as well.  All it takes is willpower, not a new OS.  (Now, if an OS let you text an electric shock to your significant other's ear when they were on their phone ignoring you, that could send product flying off the shelf.)

Obviously, neither Apple or Google are above running down the competition, but they've never lost sight of the fact that the ultimate focus needs to be, not the shortcomings of their competitors, or their competitors' customers, but the selling points of their own products.  As they've proven again and again, that's something Microsoft still doesn't get.


vmichael said...

Nice post Lynn.

micanichi said...

Thank You!