Microsoft Goes for the Gimmick

Ken Segall:

It seems that Surface makes an audible click when you attach the keyboard/cover to the tablet. And along the way, someone decided that the click would make a nice “hook” for the campaign. That led to a launch commercial based entirely on the click.

It’s a cute campaign, but it’s entirely ineffective because the product is effectively invisible. An informal poll of people I know who don’t read sites like this one, or Daring Fireball, or The Verge, have no idea that the Surface exists.

Look, not everything needs to be compared against Apple. But their marketing is some of the best in the world purely because it displays the product. The first iPad ad isn’t spectacular, but it walks through all of the commonly-used features of the product. The “What is iPad” spot is much, much better, but it’s the same story: it simply demonstrates the product. That’s all you need to know.

By contrast, Microsoft’s first Surface commercial doesn’t demonstrate a single feature of the product aside from the things that make the clicking noise. Nothing apart from the Start tile screen is displayed, which makes it entirely ineffectual. After it aired, nobody I knew could tell me what the product was.

The success or failure of a product isn’t solely determined by marketing, obviously. But it’s important to get the word out as to what is being launched. If your ad can’t communicate what the product is, it almost never works.