Why Microsoft’s Surface Ad Might be a Miss

Lots of words have been written about Microsoft’s new Surface ad. I think Gruber said it best:

It’s a brand ad, not a product ad — not about what Surface can do or how. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though. The ad has a clear message: Surface is an iPad-size tablet with a magnetic keyboard cover and it’s fun. That’s a pretty good message. It’s about framing the product in people’s minds.

The spot immediately reminded me of Apple’s iPod ads from several years back. There are some obvious similarities: people are dancing around, enthralled with the product in their hands. Very little information about that product is actually shared, and we really don’t even get a great look at what is being sold.

As Gruber said, it’s about selling a brand.

(Insert Marco’s “braaaaand” voice.)

I don’t think the Surface ad is as effective as Apple’s were, however. It’s not because the spot is bad — I actually think it’s pretty damn clever. But Apple went with the brand building after it had introduced the world to the iPod. People knew what white headphones meant in 2007. I’m not sure people know what a keyboard case is about in 2012 quite yet.

Just look at the very first iPod ad Apple aired. It showed a guy dancing around with his white earbuds, but only after he had the thing hooked up to his iBook to transfer music to it.

That’s where Microsoft messed up on this ad. It’s fine to have a fun brand-oriented ad that frames the product for people, but doing so before people know what the hell the thing is seems like a misstep to me.