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Microsoft Phone 7 ad: great but is it authentic?

Phone 7 released today in NYC , and it rained (there's a "the Gods wept", or worse, joke in there somewhere.) Sorry, too easy.

Jokes apart, the demos look pretty slick and I'm going to try to find the time to go into a store to check out some of the phones. Microsoft definitely knows how to do great launches.

However one of the best parts of the launch is the ad below: both the premise and the execution by their ad agency (CP+B).

However, something seemed vaguely familiar about the ads.

Looking back, the Bing ads follow a similar pattern - again great premise and great execution, and based on the same template: there's a problem, which is ruining everyone's life, and this product solves it. Its Marketing 101 really. Oh and also, we're smart enough to make the story funny.

However, here's why the Bing ads didn't work: they tried to position Bing as solution to a chronic problem ("Search overload") but
  • the problem doesn't really exist for that many people (the supposed source of the search overload, Google, seems to make most people happy and is actually getting better at it.)
  • the supposed solution, Bing, isn't really that much better, or even just better at all.
I'm more optimistic on this ad, because I think the problem is a little more real, and the execution is much better.

Smartphones are really getting harder to use - certainly Android and even the iPhone. I get dirty looks pretty often because I'm missing life checking my email, and checking into places on Foursquare. Being able to solve this problem is a great claim to make...if you can live up to it. I just didn't see any evidence of that in the demos.

However, I think the ads themselves are the work of "creatives" (I just finished this week's Mad Men) following a process and a pattern: trying to understand users and identifying a need and then executing well on positioning their client's product as a solution to it. I'm imagining the following conversation across a large conference room table deep in the heart of Redmond:

Ad guy: "So yeah geeks and suits, we have this brilliant idea. We know what the user needs. Does your phone make it easier and quicker to do things like tweetify, check in and email at stuff..."
Engineers/PM: "Umm...sure."
Ad guy: "Awesome!! We got it. We have your ad and this time its going to be real. Cleos and Emmys, here we come baby!"

I don't think their inspiration was authentic, but that doesn't mean their insight isn't.

As for the case they're making and the product they're pushing? Time (and users) will tell.


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