Where's The Windows Phone 7 Ad Barrage?


With the first Windows Phone 7 devices actually hitting stores today after being unveiled last month, one question that strikes me is, "Where are the ads?" Sure, Microsoft previewed the initial TV spots for the campaign for Windows Phone 7 created by Crispin Porter and Bogusky, and ads had already been generating buzz after getting leaked onto YouTube.

What's more, Microsoft touted its promotional effort for the new platform as "the biggest TV marketing campaign in the history of the mobile business," with ads to formally debut in the U.S. on Oct. 25 and air during the World Series and shows like "Hawaii Five-0," "Bones" and "Saturday Night Live." Overall, Microsoft is said to be spending $100 million on the marketing blitz, which carries the counterintuitive theme of getting people to spend less time with their phones.



Maybe I haven't been watching enough TV (I did skip the Yankee-less World Series), but I really haven't noticed the Windows Phone 7 spots on TV, online or in print. And it's not because the creative is lame. The ad dubbed "Really," showing a series of scenes of people more engrossed in their phones than their immediate surroundings, for instance, is clever and amusing. The same goes for the no-dialogue spot featuring a crowded streetscape where everyone is oblivious to the carnage caused by their phone fixation.

In connection with the launch of Windows Phone 7 handsets today, Microsoft released research from a Harris Interactive poll it commissioned, which found that although 72% of people said bad phone behavior was one of their top pet peeves, only 18% admitted to engaging in such behavior themselves. And nearly half of mobile users surveyed said they'd walked into something because they've been looking down texting.

OK, there's another press release and some kind of promotional concert tie-in with Katy Perry for Windows Phone 7. But where's the ad carpet-bombing we've come to expect after the marketing push Microsoft put behind Bing? I would've expected page takeovers at least on, Yahoo and AOL on the Windows Phone 7 launch day.

After that first pair of ads, Microsoft has said it will introduce six other 30-second commercials spotlighting particular Windows Phone features such as Xbox Live, Bing and photos. But those don't promise the kind of brand impact the initial spots are supposed to deliver, "breaking through the clutter" of other smartphone ads, according to Microsoft. That hasn't happened yet, as far as I can tell.

The success or failure of Windows Phone 7 won't rest on its ad campaign, but given the ground Microsoft has to make up against Apple and Google in the smartphone space, you would think the company would've been pushing harder on the hard sell already. After all, subtlety isn't something Microsoft is known for.

4 comments about "Where's The Windows Phone 7 Ad Barrage?".
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  1. Kevin King from NYU, November 8, 2010 at 1:38 p.m.

    I don't know about you but this weekend, during my religious watching of Sunday Football and a smattering of other shows between Friday night and the remainder of the weekend I must've seen the commercial for Windows Phone 7 at least 6 times, it was fun the first few and then the repetition became painful.

    If you really haven't seen it yet perhaps you're not in the target market, or perhaps you avoided TV this weekend, either way i envy you.

  2. Michael Keller from Initiative, November 8, 2010 at 1:59 p.m.

    You have not been watching enough TV... I saw tons of ads yesterday for the new windows phones, whether it was a promotion of a specific device, or the platform as a whole.

    I thought the ads were pretty good, but like you said, counterintuitive. I actually thought it was going to be a PSA for mobile manners...

    Let see if the cleverness of the ads suffers the geico-effect. Great the first few times, sickeningly irritating for the rest of the flight(s).

  3. Roy Moskowitz from Reciprocal Results, November 9, 2010 at 1:27 p.m.

    The ads for this terrible campaign have been pretty ubiquitous.

    I have been a Windows phone and PDA user since 2004. I say user not fan, because every generation of these devices have been buggy for web surfing and even basic phone use. I've long suffered from Blackberry and Iphone envy.

    I've continued to buy Windows phones because I like the idea of using office apps on my phone like a mini and easier to lug around notebook computer (Some crackberries offer Windows app editing, but not creation). I know netbooks have gotten smaller, but carrying around a netbook isn't always socially acceptable and Ipads fall short of delivering the experience I crave.

    Despite my complaints, I plan on buying a Windows 7 phone, although if the user experience isn't dramatically improved, it may be my last.

    The ad campaign and product design are both clueless about why someone would want a windows phone. As mentioned above, I have been loyal to Windows mobile operating systems because I in want a smartphone that functions as a mini-computer. I doubt I'm alone in that desire.

    Based on pre-Windows 7 market share, many other mobile operating system users would probably buy into that concept, if they knew Windows phones existed. The tagline for a campaign pushing the computer like experience could be something like "Forget the laptop. A Windows 7 phone is all you need." I don't think the current campaign resonates with anyone.

    People looking for a computer like experience prefer a physical keyboard. Otherwise they'd get an Iphone (I'm willing to bet that a majority of Iphone and Ipad users would choose models with physical keyboards if they exited and cost little extra. Buying the keyboard add-on is not comparable because it requires additional effort.). Yet, few Windows 7 phones have physical keyboards. None of the keyboard phones are currently available in brick and mortar stores and they can only be pre-ordered online.

    The LG Quantum, AT & T's only Keyboard Windows 7 phone, is not yet available. Neither LG nor At & T could tell me when it would be. Again, why would anyone choose a Windows 7 phone over an Iphone if there's no keyboard.

    I posed the same question on the Windows Phone Facebook page. This was their lame response.

    "Hi Roy - To preserve a consistently great customer experience, Windows Phone 7 will be available on fewer hardware configurations than previous releases. However, we do expect a broad set of partners to deliver a wide range of device choices."

  4. Mark Walsh from mediapost, November 9, 2010 at 6:16 p.m.

    It appears I simply haven't been watching enough TV to grasp the full extent of the Windows Phone 7 campaign--though I have been struck by the annoying frequency of the Geico ads mentioned below. Perhaps it's only when the WP7 ads reach Bing-like saturation levels across media that I'll realize just how pervasive the campaign is. Over time, Microsoft is likely to make sure everyone, everywhere knows about its new mobile platform.

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