Microsoft’s attempt to carve out market share in the extremely competitive smartphone industry is ambitious, to say the least. To really win over consumers, Microsoft must market Windows Phone 7 in such a way that the benefits of the platform are clearly conveyed in advertising.
There are many examples in the smartphone industry of a good and bad marketing. The Verizon Droid advertising campaign, which not only conveyed the Droid smartphone as being the anti-iPhone (appealing to many that were frustrated by the iPhone’s plethora of limitations) also had a somewhat dark, industrial theme that was attractive to the younger crowd looking for a deviation from the cheery and hip iPhone advertising spots. To this day, the Droid advertisements continue with the theme of “Droid Does” with the same robot-inspired feel. It’s safe to say that the smart marketing by Motorola and Verizon was not only tremendously beneficial to the Verizon series of Droid devices, but to the Android platform in general.
And on the other hand, we have examples of ineffective advertising in the case of Palm’s far too abstract TV spots that failed to convey why the Palm Pre running WebOS was a product to consider. While people respond to interesting and unique advertising, it doesn’t help product sales if the benefits of the product aren’t clearly conveyed.
I’ve been eager to get a glimpse at the advertising for Windows Phone 7. Would the ads truly show the consumer how the product is different and interesting, or would they go the way of the Palm ads by being too artsy or abstract?
The first ads are out, and so far, I’m impressed. After just one viewing of both ads, I can summarize why Windows Phone 7 is different according to the ad: it brings information forward on the Start screen. And not only do the ads clearly convey WHY Windows Phone 7 is different, but they hinge on the theme of “different”…which is critical in a day when people are tired of sameness in the smartphone industry. Both ads feature a typical scene: people endlessly staring at their device, oblivious to the world around them. We’ve all experienced this level of absentmindedness as we bounce between multiple apps to check our latest email, keep tabs on Twitter, check a sports score, and more. Windows Phone 7, as we’ve been discovering through our preview videos, is all about glanceable information. It combines the customizability of Android with the simplicity (which can also be interpreted as inflexibility) of iPhone. The ads show this very well. Windows Phone 7 is the anti-smartphone, in a way, because it requires less attention.
The big flaw I see in the Windows Phone 7 ads is that hardware is not emphasized, probably because the HTC Mondrian is a frills-free piece of hardware that looks no different than your average slate smartphone. I’m sure we’ll see some more impressive Windows Phone 7 hardware in the future, but it would have provided a needed boost to the infant platform if the early commercials featured remarkable hardware.
What do you think about the first Windows Phone 7 ads? Are they spot-on, enough to woo the smarpthone-buying crowd, or do they miss the mark?