Windows Phone 7: Beautifully executed advertising with the wrong position

Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share

8 November 2010

Basically, it’s saying buy a boring phone

Regular readers of this blog, and those who have worked with us, know we at Stealing Share consider Apple to have the most powerful brand in the world, which is why we’ve often mocked recent attempts by competitors to take on the iPhone. I’m still fully in this camp, but let’s give the Windows Phone 7 the benefit of the doubt for a moment to make a larger point that marketers must consider.

The main message in the current “Really?” TV spot is “It’s time for a phone to save us from our phones.” That strategy is executed perfectly. The scenes of people so focused on their phones – even if they are at an urinal – are hilarious because we’ve all seen scenes like that or, if we’re really honest with ourselves, done them ourselves.

“None of us believe we are those people – even though, obviously many of us are, just not all the time – or want to be associated with that. Those are other people.”

Windows phone

Even the payoff, that the new phone is built to get you in and out, fulfills the promise of the “Be Here Now” brand position. And it’s different than the competition.

Kudos, right? Yes, if the position was the single most emotionally persuasive thing Microsoft could say to get you to switch to a Windows phone.That’s the problem. The brand position is ridiculous.

For it to work, you’d have to see yourself as the one who uses your phone too much – like the husband ignoring his wife – and wants a phone less involving. A customer would have to say, “Sign me up. I want a more boring smart phone!”

None of us believe we are those people – even though, obviously many of us are, just not all the time – or want to be associated with that. Those are other people.

For a brand message to work, you have to find the highest emotional intensity in the market and align your brand with it. It sounds like to me that Microsoft asked the wrong questions in doing its research and ran with it. No doubt, it asked: “Do you think people are too involved with their phones and not with their lives?” The answer was, of course, “Yes.”

But that doesn’t mean that answer is important.

It’s like asking, “Do you like the tile at Walmart?” Then, if everyone said yes, Walmart would market the tile. Just because it has a positive response does not mean it’s important when choosing.

At Stealing Share, we have ways to unearth those emotional intensities that are important. Microsoft could have used them, but all marketers must also remember that a brand message works when it is an aspirational and emotional reflection of the target audience.

If you believe you are that one who is too involved in your phone and would like to change, then the Microsoft messaging works and you’ll buy a Windows phone. If not, then all Microsoft has done with its perfectly executed advertising is make you laugh at others while you wonder how bland the Windows phone must be to so uninvolving.

See more posts in the following related categories: brand advertising Microsoft Windows phone

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