If you’re following the Internet’s chatter around Microsoft’s Surface RT and Surface Pro, you’ve heard that Surface is Microsoft’s somewhat late response to the explosion of touch-centric mobile computing, and more specifically Apple’s iPad. You’ve heard that the Windows brand is struggling to remain relevant. In spite of mixed reviews I’m rather fascinated by the Surface, but today I’m talking marketing rather than tech. Let’s review some advertisements.
It starts well enough with Surface’s unique magnetic keyboard attachment. And I do like that click sound.
But why are we on a college campus? Actually, are we on a college campus? There’s a few people here that would qualify as fully grown adults. And then there’s also pre-teen girls dancing in matching Catholic school uniforms. Is Surface RT for the Justin Bieber crowd? Is this just a place where tablet users congregate?
The ad almost instantly morphs into a scene from Glee. People are throwing tablets around like they’re worthless (I’m guessing that message is off-brand). Breakdancing is happening. I think I saw a brief reenactment of The Matrix. Sure, this is all well directed and performed, but it’s also only interested in the product at a secondary level. This isn’t the fragrance industry where everything has to be sold on vacuous emotion and endorsement deals. This feels dorky.
Unlike Surface RT, Surface Pro can be used like a regular PC. You know, for serious shit. And Microsoft has an interesting way of showing it.
Okay guys, now we’re totally in business mode. You can tell because we appear to be in a metropolitan ad agency filled with hip young folks. But you know what’s still happening? Breakdancing. And it’s almost the same ad. Which is to say that it feels like a music video with tablets tacked on.
In Hey Whipple, Squeeze This: A Guide to Creating Great Advertising, Luke Sullivan tells us that ads are at their best when you remove all of the clutter. And while Apple doesn't do everything right, these ads demonstrate that theory well.
The product (and its key feature) owns the entire ad. There’s no Macy’s Parade getting in the way of the product.
The message is so clear: the iPad mini is the iPad, just smaller. That’s it.
Microsoft needs to stop breakdancing and just let their products speak for themselves.