Lovely commercial, but is the Windows Phone really interested in getting you “back to life?”

November 17, 2010

The glossy new 60-second TV commercial for the Window’s Phone is a gorgeous piece of filmmaking. Great acting. Great directing. Great pacing. Great music. The copy sounds great, too: “It’s time for a phone to save us from our phones. New Windows Phone. Designed to get you in and out and back to life.”

Numerous vignettes depict painfully true scenarios of people staring into their Blackberries and Iphones while ignoring real life. My favorite (and there are many good ones) is of a bride texting at her very own wedding as her father walks her down the aisle. In all, the campaign is a very revealing portrait of our mobile culture. We multi-task therefore we miss out on “ real life.”

Unfortunately, the reasoning has a fatal flaw. A new piece of hardware or sizzling software isn’t going to change people’s behavior one iota. If anything, the Windows Phone will only make it worse. The fact that you can now get to your apps faster does not mean you will get done with them faster. That’s not what will happen and you know it. Instead of getting you somewhere quicker, a faster car on a faster track means you’ll only try and go farther.

The strategy for this lovely film is flawed because it doesn’t take into account the real motivation behind our obsession with smart phones. We want to be on them. We prefer being on them. Even when Sally’s so-called “real life” gets interesting (a date for example), it’s already happening to her. That fish is in the boat. Therefore, she needs to be working on the next date or checking in with her GF’s at the party. And so on. Right or wrong, that’s what people do.

Bottom line: If we spend too much time on our devices, the solution is not another device. For me selling the Window’s Phone this way is, at best, wishful thinking. However, it might not even matter, for any significant change or upgrade in technology will result in new sales, regardless of how it’s advertised. Just as likely is the chance Windows Phone is only feigning empathy for “quality time,” a rope-a-dope advertisers have been employing for years.

Within minutes of posting, I got a tweet from blogger, Marc Sherman about a piece he wrote saying the same damn thing as me! And another from Jason Fox. Holy Crap!

4 Responses to “Lovely commercial, but is the Windows Phone really interested in getting you “back to life?””

  1. brian said

    I had the same response as you. A phone that saves you from your phone? Now that’s a laugh. Still, I admire the filmmaking. Incredibly well done.

  2. Jason Fox said

    A techy friend of mine is now arguing with me over Twitter that this campaign targets the vast unwashed who don’t own or really want a smart phone. Which would be an okay strategy (I suppose) if the spot didn’t feel aimed squarely at iPhone geeks. Spots like these actually make me a bit sad — incredibly well shot and edited, builds interest and tension, then leaves you scratching your head.

    And now that we’ve heard from former Barkley and Bernstein people, let’s open it up to the rest of the world.

  3. Stephen MacDonald said

    I agree. I think these ads are great in concept and execution but shady in psychological meaning. At face value they point out a flaw in American tech savvy culture. Yet, if I look past face value I find that these ads feel like very well executed late night infomercials. It’s like a weight loss pill for an over 40 demographic but it’s for a cultural addiction to technology. Notice that the majority of the subjects in the commercial are of an age where they can remember a life without constant connectivity. You don’t see a teenager getting back to his life. You see a person (at least in my mind) in their mid to late thirties or older. So basically they are selling a phone that will bring you 10 years back to a simpler time when you didn’t feel the need to update your Twitter or Facebook about what you are doing at that moment. Social networking, especially mobile social networking, has created an amazing gap in peoples understand of how to converse with one another face to face. So all in all they are selling a piece of technology that is the cure for your technological sickness that in fact will only make you worse.

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