The Bad Call
Well, that was quick: soon after the Windows Phone team posted a video meant to be a “light-hearted poke” at Apple’s announcement of the iPhone 5C and 5S, they took it down. The video may no longer live on the Windows Phone team’s YouTube account, but some people managed to grab a copy and post it on their own accounts. For those of you who haven’t seen it, here it is:
The ad had the title A Fly on the Wall in Cupertino? and features two Apple employee stereotypes bouncing between meetings with Jony Ive (where they’re wearing black T-shirts) and a CEO who’s an amalgam of Tim Cook and the late Steve Jobs (where they’re wearing grey T-shirts). The basic gist of the ad — Apple is out of ideas — is a good one to work with, but the execution is terrible; it’s “cringe-worthy” (to use The Next Web’s adjective), but even more important, it comes off as a little desperate.
Remember what’s going on at Microsoft right now:
- They’re in the middle of a much-speculated-about CEO search right now, as the current one is stepping down in the next 12 months. The official word is that it’s a voluntary retirement; the industry scuttlebutt is that he was “managed out” (to use a term that gets bandied about within Microsoft) for missing too many opportunities, especially in mobile.
- They just bought their number one mobile hardware partner, whose market share has dropped tenfold since 2010, for a billion dollars and change less than they paid for Skype.
Even Microsoft employees winced when they saw the video, and some even publicly disavowed any connection between it and them online. The only thing worse I’ve seen coming from the Windows Phone team was from when I was still with the company — remember the “funeral” for iPhone and Android when the not-quite-completely-baked Windows Phone 7 hit RTM?
Some Good Calls
The sad thing is that it is possible to poke fun at the other platforms and not come off as trying too hard, and that Microsoft and its partners have pulled it off a couple of times. The best example I can think of is the “Wedding” ad, featuring a wedding party getting into an out-and-out brawl over iOS vs. Android:
My favourite bits in this ad are the two Android fans doing the NFC bump and making a little sound effect at the same time, and this exchange between the two Nokia Lumia-using waiters:
“D’you think if they knew about the Nokia Lumia, they’d stop fighting all the time?”
“I dunno. I think they kinda like fighting.”
The ad’s so good that even the “making of” video for it has over 100,000 views:
Another good ad, this one from my time at Microsoft, is the “Really?” ad, which promoted Windows Phone’s “glance and go” design as the smartphone that would save you from your smartphone:
And finally, here’s the half-decent “the smartphone beta test is over” ad, which is a pretty good way of handling the fact that the move from Windows Mobile to Windows Phone made Microsoft seem as if it were late to the mobile party:
There you have it: historical proof that Microsoft can do better when it comes to promoting Windows Phone. The question is: will they?