Jan 232012

Verizon’s been taking a couple of stabs at advertising the second-best smartphone operating system and I have to say, the latest tie-in kinda nails it. Ladies and gentlemen, R2D2:

What better way to advertise Android than with an actual droid? The resemblances between Lucas’s reboot of the Star Wars franchise and Android don’t stop there, however. To wit:

  • Both bastardize popular original ideas to turn a buck with vastly inferior offerings
  • Both substitute eye-catching features to cover for their lack of substance
  • Both feature lead characters that have the likability of wet cardboard
  • Both have successfully suckered in millions, only to have them regret the experience

Android: the Episode I of smartphones.


Nov 282011

You see the latest ad from Samsung knocking all you fanboys standing in line for the 4S? The one that touts the Samsung Galaxy S II Xtreme Beta 9 as the phone the 4S wants to be? Here’s a snippet:

I lied. That’s not the actual dialogue from the commercial. The actual script touting the Galaxy (ii) IV The Voyage Home contained sick jabs about the iPhone 4s’s “spotty battery” in almost the same breath that one actor expresses joy over her knock-off’s 4G coverage without her head exploding from the ironic shearing forces.

Rumor has it that the sequel to this commercial will focus on the line for the Galaxy S II – the return line.

Nov 102010

Despite many self-inflicted blows to the head, I cannot get that sound byte out of my head, which I guess is the point of most Microsoft advertising. It’s one of the things I imagine they teach in “Introduction to Advertising”. Except for the part about the impression associating positively with the brand. Redmond’s ads are memorable like Creepy King.

Anyway, Windows Phone 7 debuted their offerings with AT&T (yes, the same network that is holding the iPhone hostage) and it doesn’t look like it made a huge splash, despite whoring out Maroon 5 and Katy Perry in an attempt to sell them. I guess launching on the same network as the iPhone wasn’t that great an idea after all. Despite some critics’ hypothesis, which is that Microsoft burned its bridge with Verizon when they yoinked the Kin after 2 months, I actually think there’s a larger strategy at play. Microsoft wants to be the best by beating the best. Really. This is the same company that threatened to open its wildly popular retail stores next door to Apple Stores. I apologize in advance for any sarcasm detectors I may have just broken.

On a related note, I despise Katy Perry. You know by listening to her music that she sold out approximately 14 seconds postpartum.

“Let’s make a pop song about lipstick lesbianism!” /giggles

“I’m married to wild child Russell Brand and I have him trained!” /giggles

Is it any coincidence that Katy Perry and Gwen Stefani have both shilled for Redmond? They’re the same schtick, people. Come to think of it, I’ve never seen them together. File that rant under “Haters gon’ hate”.

Nov 082010

So the Windows 7 Phone is here, which means there’s a new 9-figure advertising blitz designed to differentiate Microsoft’s offering in a product category that was revolutionized by Apple 3 years ago. Welcome to the party, Redmond.

Hmmm. I guess the spin is: “Smartphones have become too distracting, which has decreased our quality of life. Windows Phone 7…phones…allow people to use their smartphones as tools, freeing them to enjoy life more.”

Or maybe: “Because Microsoft waited 3 years to release a smartphone, all the intellectual property has already been trademarked, so they can’t copy something that looks nice like they did with the Mac. No developers have an interest in their platform, so they don’t have any apps. Windows Phone 7 offers a smartphone experience that let’s you get in, get out and “be here now” because you’re not going to have anything to keep you interested in the phone.”

They’ve even managed to co-op some annoying catchphrases from pop culture (how many times do you have to hear “Really?” before you want to start jamming sharp things into squishy places?) and self-help (“Be Here Now”) phenomena. Good to see that photocopier still works for advertising.

Sep 142010

I threw up 5 times this morning to fit into this bikini!

You may have seen Amazon’s cute ad for its Kindle e-reader recently. It depicts a dork with an iPad and a bikini-clad model with a Kindle, both reading from their devices poolside. One is struggling to read his glossy screen while the other is breezing through her electronic copy of Self magazine  (oops – that’s not available on the Kindle) Pride and Prejudice. And at $139, our model quips “I actually paid more for these sunglasses”. Check and mate Jeff Bezos!

The problem is that Amazon just laid out the entirety of its differential value proposition in that commercial. Sort of like the shitty movie with the awesome 2 minute trailer, that’s as good as it’s going to get. For $139, that might be disposable income for some, but if you’re in the market for devices that can read books, are you really going to drop $139 when you could have a device that does video, email and has access to a quarter million apps for twice as much? Book nuts will buy a Kindle to read to their 5 cats. Anyone who has thought about doing more with their device won’t.

Oh, and people who fry themselves poolside in 2010 with the regularity that would make the Kindle a clear “buy” should be making arrangements for their skin grafts now.

TMA is now at 100 posts. Thanks to all you comment spammers for giving me something to do with my free time. Try clicking through some ads.

Aug 092010

It’s no secret that TMA thinks Microsoft has the worst advertising in technology. Any company that combines projectile vomiting and Dean Cain in an ad deserves to have a bullet put into its right brain.

So the geniuses at Redmond have taken the news that college freshmen would now rather eat glass than use a PC and channeled their embarrassment into a devastating comparison: “PC vs Mac”.  From the “Simplicity” section (where the lede is “Intuitive, familiar, and easy to use, PCs do what you want: they just work” (emphasis mine):

Macs can take time to learn.

Especially when you’ve learned that something that’s always taken 12 steps only takes 2.

The computer that’s easiest to use is typically the one you already know how to use. While some may say Macs are easy, the reality is that they can come with a learning curve. PCs running Windows 7 look and work more like the computers you’re familiar with, so you can get up and running quickly.

Actually, PCs running Windows 7 should look pretty familiar: almost all of their UI elements were ripped off from the Mac, starting with Windows 3.1.

Working smoothly.

Things just don’t work the same way on Macs if you’re used to a PC. For example, the mouse works differently. And many of the shortcuts you’re familiar with don’t work the same way on a Mac.

Cntl-Alt-Del, for example.

Use Windows 7 to simplify your life.

Windows 7 was designed to make it simpler to do the tasks you do every day, with features that the Mac doesn’t have. For example, the new Snap feature makes it easy to view two documents side by side.

We think so much of this feature that we’ve made it the basis of 2 separate commercials. This one feature, which resizes a window when you put one adjacent to it = $10 million in advertising. The centerpiece of Microsoft’s major OS overhaul, the product that would save PC users from Vista, is a window resizing feature.  They should have named Windows 7 “Windows Snap”.

Touch and go.

Unlike Macs, many PCs running Windows 7 support Touch, so you can browse online newspapers, flick through photo albums, and shuffle files and folders—using nothing but your fingers. PCs with a fingerprint reader even let you log in with just a swipe of your finger.

Microsoft does have a point. The “touch” in Apple’s “Multi-Touch” is technically part of a hyphenated word, so it’s not the same as “Touch”. Otherwise, I’d think that the company that revolutionized touch-based UI was being slighted.

Usually I don’t link to retardery, but in this case, Microsoft’s hilarious attempt to differentiate its offerings deserves full linkage.

Jun 302010

Microsoft sure is getting good at killing products. Last month it was the non-product Courier, which got some significant starring roles in animations that were leaked to the tech press around the time of the iPad’s launch.

This month Redmond is putting its recently-released Kin phones out to pasture – less than 2 months after a marketing blitz of a release that featured impeccably-dressed angsty tweens and continued a Microsoft tradition of top-notch advertising. The company says it will integrate the Kin group, led by Sidekick data-killer Roz Ho, with the Windows Phone Series 7 Series Phone Thingy team.

It’s refreshing to see Microsoft being able to pull the plug not just on products they had no intention of releasing anyway, but on things that actually ship. This level of discipline and self-awareness bodes well for them, even if the 48 day flameout of a major product line is – how can one put this gently – a fucking abomination? If realizing no one wants your consumer electronics offerings is the prerequisite for getting axed, one wonders if Microsoft will even have a Entertainment and Devices division in the near term.

Sep 222009

Remember Kylie?  She’s the cute four-and-a-half year-old who figured out how to download pictures from her camera to her PC, apply image correction to the photos and email them using a distribution list – all in Microsoft’s Windows Live.

Yeah, I didn’t quite buy it either.

Seems Kylie may be the next Jerry Seinfeld for the brand.  Not content to let an ad campaign stand by itself, Kylie has appeared in a crossover ad for Windows 7.  Using her legendary computer skills, she even puts together a slick slideshow with some of 7’s most positive reviews:

Advertising challenge 101: plot the demographic for this ad.

Advertising challenge: plot the demographic for this ad.

I honestly can’t tell if they’re leveling themselves or if they believe they’re actually targeting viewers.  That Redmond ad group is one wacky fun machine.

Jul 162009

Because Ars Technica has an Apple section‚ I guess they have to have one for Microsoft too.  I find a good chuckle there most days‚ though I imagine the humor is unintentional.  Like this gem recounting how “a lawyer from Apple” allegedly called Microsoft to beg them to stop running their “Shitbox Laptop Hunters” ads.

The “cry for mercy” yarn was delivered at Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference by COO Kevin Turner:

“And you know why I know they’re (the Laptop Hunter ads) working? Because two weeks ago we got a call from the Apple legal department saying, hey — this is a true story — saying, “Hey, you need to stop running those ads, we lowered our prices.” They took like $100 off or something. It was the greatest single phone call in the history that I’ve ever taken in business.” (Applause.)

The most fictional call you’ve taken‚ maybe.  And let me add: your sentence structure blows.  Did you start that last sentence wanting to say “it was the greatest single phone call in the history of business” and then chicken out because it was too over-the-top?   You kinda blew the reality cap with the premise‚ so I think you should have run with it.  Besides‚ your lobotomized “partners” would have (applaused) regardless.

So Apple‚ instead of‚ say‚ filing a complaint with the BBB’s National Advertising Division or taking some kind of formal legal action‚ has a representative from their legal department call Microsoft to make a plea for mercy?


Skeptical baby calls bullshit on your story‚ Kevin.  Maybe the souls you crushed under the monopoly wheel at Wal-Mart (is this some kind of theme?) pleaded with you prior to being absorbed/destroyed by The Collective‚ but if I were to guess what the  response from Don Rosenberg’s shop would be‚ it would rhyme with “you fucking wish”.

Update: I should know better than to take the context given at arstechnica/microsoft at face value.  Apple’s alleged beef – I say alleged because there is nothing of substance on this other than Turner’s claim – isn’t that the ads are hurting them‚ but that M$ is grossly misrepresenting the price of current Apple offerings in the ads. And not “like $100 off or something”‚ but $300.  So I guess getting a call from lawyers stating you must cease and desist your blatantly misleading advertising is not quite the same as a squeal of “uncle”.  Douchebag.  Some excellent reporting by the good folks at MacDailyNews here.

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