In the technology biz, “cool” is a very good thing to be. Ask Apple. Its past revolutions were fueled by the ever-present aura of cool.
But where exactly does cool come from? One thing is for certain: it doesn’t come from standing on a mountaintop and screaming “we’re cool!”
This is apparently one marketing lesson Microsoft has never learned. Because just a few days ago, it stood on a mountaintop (The Grammys broadcast) and screamed its coolness with the above Surface Pro commercial.
Let’s start with the obvious: it isn’t cool. If I had to categorize it, I’d say this spot falls somewhere between “retro” and “embarrassing.”
Watching office workers dance to the rhythm of the “click-in” hip-hop feels like something out of the days of Mad Men, when a song and a dance was a brilliant way to sell instant coffee or floor polish.
Such opinions are subjective of course. Clearly there are a number of people in this world who are entertained by such spots. Some are already arguing that the launch is all about getting attention for a business tablet, and future ads will fill in the details.
The strategy of first putting a stake in the ground is perfectly valid. I simply point out that there are a thousand creative ways to put that stake in the ground without making a significant number of people feel icky just watching.
It’s curious that Microsoft has gone out of its way to create two different tablets with different operating systems — one targeted at consumers, the other targeted at business — yet it advertises them in an identical way. (See Surface RT commercial here.)
Same director, same shtick. And make no mistake, it is a shtick. This commercial is from a school of advertising that went dormant about 40 years ago.
With its two big-budget Surface spots, Microsoft joins the club. A more creative company would have taken all that production money and started its own club.
It brings to mind that classic Steve Jobs video where he said “Microsoft has no taste,” then elaborated “I don’t mean that in a small way, I mean that in a big way.”
With multiple millions sunk into this campaign, Microsoft’s “big way” is showing once again.