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Microsoft Marketing Exposes Apple Envy

01/14/2013

Screen shot 2013-01-14 at 7.12.24 AMThere are reliable ways to evaluate the direction a brand is heading. One is the company’s financials (there’s no hiding in numbers), another is to talk to the company’s leadership and yet another is to analyze the brand’s marketing.

During heavy rotation of TV spots during NFL playoff weekend I was intrigued by what seems to be two brands taking very different directions.

One is Microsoft. The “Surface” campaign illustrates the company’s “Apple-envy”. The “Surface Movement” has from its earliest airings in October appeared to be more like a spot for Kit-Kat candy bars or some kind of gum then a tablet/personal computer. Nothing like sharing my tablet with a bunch of people on a park bench. Weird.

I can only imagine behind closed doors at Microsoft’s HQ – some mucky-muck stamping his/her feet and saying, “I’m tired of Microsoft being the smart but boring one…I want to be cool – like Apple”.

Sorry to say break it in to you Microsoft, but once a nerd always a nerd.

Alternatively mobile brand Verizon has taken on a high-brow approach with its “Powerful Answers” campaign. Given the expansiveness of the role of mobile in consumers’ lives and technology in general, this spot, in my opinion, works. And it works well.

It works because it is aspirational for the Verizon brand. It’s not selling shared anytime minutes – even though that’s a big part of their business today. Instead it positions mobile in a powerful and important way. It could be stronger in connecting the Verizon brand with this aspirational premise…but who knows, this might be the first of a series on Powerful Answers.

Mobile phones are not nerdy. In fact they are largely social. But the evolution of mobile for commerce, tasks, comparing, photographing, recording and entertaining is making smartphones the apex of nerdiness and hipster cool.

Interestingly Verizon looks like a nerd that is cool just by doing the things it’s doing. Verizon is not trying to be cool. Instead it is leveraging its “nerdiness” to do cool things. That doesn’t seem to be the case with Microsoft.

Take a look a Verizon’s “Powerful Answers: Eureka” spot. Compare to Microsoft’s candy bar commercial for Surface. Who’d you rather hang around with?

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