Microsoft’s mediocre multi-product campaign

Got an email today trumpeting Microsoft's "First ever multi-product ad campaign", which is being rolled out globally. You can watch the ad here, or click below if you are reading on the blog website.

I have to say I was disappointed with what the finest marketing brains at Microsoft have come up with. I struggle to see how it will do much for either sales or the brand. Here's why.

1. Wallpaper advertising

I was actually expecting something pretty shit-hot when I read in the email that the campaign would "Showcase unique experiences realised through Windows, Windows Phone, Xbox for Kinect and Office." After all, that is a pretty powerful product line-up.

But what you get is a cheesy dad dancing to some annoying techno music. The e-enabled kids catch him on video and, wow!, get the film onto their PC straight away to show grandad. It lacks any distinctiveness at all. Where are the ownable Microsoft brand properties that could make it memorable?

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In contrast, Nintendo Wii have created distinctiveness through consistent use of celebrities playing games with their families (see Spurs soccer manager Harry Redknapp below), and through the Wii visual and sonic branding device.

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2. What is it selling?

The campaign falls down on two fronts. On the one hand, its not a big, impressive brand campaign a la Sony's "Balls" or "Rabbits" campaigns that work by challenging your perceptions of the brand.

On the other hand it doesn't really sell any of the Microsfoft products either. Will it make you want to buy a Windows phone, not an iPhone or Samsung? No. Or buy an Xbox instead of a Wii or Playstation. Nope.

3. Stuck in the 90's

The ad also feels so out-dated when compared to Apple, Samsung and Google. The tone is so cheesy and cringeworthy: "Hey look, all the family can use Microsoft!". In contrast, Apple is used by all the family because the products are so damn good, not because they run an ad showing people of all ages using them.

And then what really tops it off is how Microsoft show just how far behind they are by signing off their multi-product campaign by saying "It all starts with a Windows 7 PC".

Contrast this with Apple's recent launch of IOS 5 software for iPad/iPhone, which includes iCloud and other services that allow these devices to work without need for a PC. For example, pictures taken or music bought on one device are automatically synced with the others. Without you doing anything.

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In conclusion, Microsofts new ad shows how important it is to get a clear brief, as it feels that the objectives in this case were not clear. It also shows how great marketing is about smart strategy AND excellent execution, both of which feel to be lacking here.