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Microsoft needs to fire its marketing firm urgently

By Jaime Rivera May 29, 2013, 5:46 pm

Historically we’ve seen many cases of how crucial the right marketing can be for a company, or how devastating the wrong marketing can be as well. On the positive side, we’ve seen how Samsung and Apple have hugely benefited from great marketing. Many of us agree that both Apple and Samsung products are great, but so are HTC products even if we don’t see HTC succeed in the same way. The only difference between these three companies is their approach to Marketing, where HTC clearly doesn’t push as hard as the other two. And then we have the complete opposite, where companies like Palm did invest heavily in marketing, but sadly the wrong marketing. Their ads all had a good message, but their presentation was so creepy that it made their product lose appeal. This is a clear example of how Marketing is not only about the amount of exposure, but also about the right exposure.


According to Wikipedia: “Marketing is the process of communicating the value of a product or service to customers, for the purpose of selling the product or service. It is a critical business function for attracting customers.” This is not just about telling the world that you have a product, but also about telling the world why your product matters. You’ll never see a billboard of a Galaxy S 4 at a mall with just a phone and no text. The ad has to fulfill its purpose of informing you of the existence of the product, and why it’s hot.

So I’m going to ask you all a very direct question. It’s actually a very simple one. You don’t have to be a lover or a hater of this company to know the answer; you simply have to respond what pops in your mind first. The question is: Do you think that Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 ads are effective? I ask effective instead of good because their Windows Phone 7 “Really” campaign was hilarious and simply great, but it clearly wasn’t effective. It didn’t set Windows Phone in the top of mind of the market, and it didn’t convince people to buy it. Effective would be to really reach the purpose of setting a product in style and selling.

In my opinion, they aren’t. They are all well presented, very professional and some are hilarious, but they don’t drive a need in me to buy a Windows Phone or a Windows computer. This is actually an irony in my case, since I was exclusively a Windows and Windows Mobile customer from 1993 to 2009. I’ll try to explain why I believe they are good ads, but not effective enough to communicate the value of their product.

Comparison ads require a smart focus or they don’t always work

So a lot of us laughed with Microsoft’s recent ad comparing the iPad with a Windows tablet and having Siri express how many things it couldn’t do when compared to the Windows tablet. Many of us consider it fair that Microsoft takes a blow at Apple since we saw the Mac vs PC ads for almost a decade.

The problem is that Microsoft’s Ad is not really as effective as Apple’s comparisons. There are a couple of reasons why. You’ll notice that in each Mac vs PC ad, the Mac guy would tell you of the things that a Mac could do, and would never show any signs of inferiority with the PC guy. You’ll also notice that they both got along as friends, and some of these ads were mainly focused on telling the world that they were different products, but that could do the same things.

You could say that these same principles were followed with the Microsoft Ad, but they actually weren’t. A clear example is that first of all an iPad is clearly inferior to a full Windows 8 computer. This is no state secret; even those that aren’t tech savvy know that. The reason why this comparison is wrong is because you’ll never see Mercedes launch an ad to compare themselves against Toyota. We know that Toyota sells more, but Mercedes is focused on a higher-end market. That would be a huge blow to those who see Mercedes as a higher-end brand as well. Surely both are cars, but Mercedes targets a different customer, and they would make their vehicle seem inferior if they compared it to a lesser quality or lesser capable vehicle. If the comparison would’ve been between the Windows 8 computer and a MacBook Air, this ad would’ve been an instant hit since both products can do the same, but a Windows 8 tablet is actually a full computer with extra features. That moment when the ad would’ve shown the power of Windows 8 on a touch screen and no touch screen on the MacBook Air would’ve been majestic. We all know that an iPad is not a work machine, and to compare Windows 8 to the iPad is making Windows 8 look bad.

Another thing that went really bad was to have Siri respond for the iPad, and no voice responding for the Windows 8 tablet. I couldn’t avoid the face palm when I saw this. There’s nothing groundbreaking about Siri, but to have the “lesser” tablet talk to you and have the “more-powerful” tablet remain silent is indirectly making Windows 8 look inferior.

Yes, you and I know Windows 8 is not inferior, but this ad doesn’t express that in all of its aspects.

Switch to a Lumia ad

Oh man, then there are the terrible ads. Those that I still scratch my head and wonder how they got approved. So you have an ad showing a whole room of the people invited to a wedding with iPhones and Galaxy smartphones and none using a Nokia Lumia. We even see the Galaxy fans sharing stuff through NFC, and no Lumia featuring anything. All of them push their fanboyistic pride in defense of their platform, and they spend 43 out of the 60 seconds of the video showing off everything except a Lumia. Finally when you least expect it, minute 00:44 jumps in and the only ones using a Nokia Lumia are the waiters. No hot features that the Lumia could do are shown in the ad, and all we have are two waiters using the phone while senior citizens, young people, rich people, and everybody else is not. Oh man, what a terrible ad.

So yeah, I did laugh watching the ad. I also understood the purpose of the ad in allowing yourself to try something new and different. Sadly, what the ad told me is that nobody uses a Lumia, and everybody uses a Galaxy or an iPhone. For some reason I think the marketing firm has lost touch of how things go in and out of style. When they’re in style everybody uses them, and rarely will you find people that are willing to be out of it.

The bottom line

Microsoft has single-handedly changed the world. They made me a computer geek since I was 13 years old, and a Pocket PC geek in my early 20s. They also introduced me to the smartphone, and I could honestly say that Microsoft software has been with me more than half of my life. Sadly, either they fire their marketing firm, or more Microsoft believers will leave. They currently have great products to offer to the market, but they are communicating the wrong message to the market. When people comment and say that I hate Microsoft, I honestly chuckle, because if that were true, then I wouldn’t care about them at all and wouldn’t write about them so much.

I’ll commend them for trying. They are doing all they can. Sadly, as the late Stephen Covey would say in his books, this is like trying to be the first to climb a ladder without making sure it’s set on the right wall. The ads are all wrong, and they seriously need to work on fixing them.

What about you? Do you enjoy Microsoft’s current ads, or would you agree that they’re sending the wrong message even with their good intent? Leave us a comment.


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