Microsoft’s “Super” Ad

[pullquote]Making fun of Microsoft Ads is like hunting dairy cows with a high-powered rifle and scope[/pullquote]

Microsoft and Apple have been competing against one another in computing for some thirty odd years. Both companies have evolved over the years but, in many ways, their personalities remain the same. Nowhere is this better reflected than in their advertising. Apple is the cool kid, as portrayed in Apple’s famous Mac vs PC Ads. Microsoft is the successful Geek who has everything — except Apple’s status as the cool kid…and Apple’s ability to create a successful Ad campaign.

Five Types Of Microsoft Ads

Advertising is a dark ocean without shores or lighthouse, strewn with many a wreck.

Microsoft seems to have five types of Ads: Bizarre, Misguided, Envious, Defensive and Mean.


[pullquote]Time spent in Microsoft’s advertising division seems to create a permanent deformity like the Chinese habit of foot-binding.[/pullquote]

I really don’t need to prove that Microsoft’s Ads are bizarre. They speak for themselves:

  1. 10 Bizarre Microsoft Ads That Will Hurt Your Brain


  1. Microsoft get it done day

While Apple’s Ads tend to focus on fun stuff, like music and movies, Microsoft’s Ads focus on spreadsheets and Powerpoint presentations. Microsoft thinks that the fact that their computers do work is an advantage. But I think they’re wrong on two counts.

First, the message Microsoft wants to send is that their computers DO work. But the message they actually seem to be conveying is that their computers ARE work.

Second, everyone knows that Apple’s computers can be used for fun. Only Microsoft thinks that means that they can’t be used for work too.


[pullquote]One can live in the shadow of an idea without grasping it. ~ Elizabeth Bowen[/pullquote]

When the Surface first came out, Microsoft tried to sell it with Apple-like dancers and clickable covers. But instead of looking “cool”, their ads just came across as pointless.

You can’t teach cool and the harder Microsoft tries to be like Apple, the clearer it is that they’re nothing at all like Apple.



[pullquote]Bitterness is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die. ~ Steve Ostten[/pullquote]

Does the above Ad ring true to you — or to anyone outside of Redmond? Apple and Android tablets have been a sales success. Windows 8 tablets have been a sales disaster. Yet we’re supposed to believe that the guy in the Ad couldn’t find a single reason not to buy a non-Microsoft device? Really?

It’s like Microsoft is begging us to believe them; to take them at their word. The louder they shout, the more we tune them out.


[pullquote]The only problem with Microsoft is that they have no taste. ~ Steve Jobs[/pullquote]

  1. Microsoft removes cringe-worthy videos, says they were intended to be ‘light-hearted poke’ at Apple

Microsoft is like the tone deaf man who insists on singing at the top of his lungs at all the wrong times and in all the wrong venues. Their ads are not just odd, they make you cringe.


[pullquote]Good bad taste is always fueled by rage and anger with humor thrown in. Bad bad taste is fueled by stupidity and ignorance, and it comes out as anger. ~ John Waters[/pullquote]

Microsoft’s Scroogled campaign is just plain mean. It was bad enough when they were just running ads but then someone at Microsoft thought it was a good idea to open a Scroogled Store – where Microsoft would sell you shirts and mugs that mock Google.

Scroogled just dumps on Google with nothing positive. ~ Steve Wildstrom (@swildstrom)

Apple’s Ads Get It

Nike sells a commodity, they sell shoes. And yet when you think of Nike you feel something different than a shoe company. In their ads, as you know, they don’t ever talk about the product, they don’t ever talk about their air soles, how they’re better than Reebok’s air soles. What’s Nike do in their advertising? They honor great athletes and they honor great athletics. That’s who they are. That is what they are about. ~ Steve Jobs, during a town hall meeting with employees before unveiling the “Think Different” campaign in 1997.

[pullquote]This 30yr anniversary commercial is so right… ~ Jean-Louis Gassée (@gassee)[/pullquote]

Microsoft’s Super Bowl Ad

The follow Ad was shown by Microsoft during the Super Bowl.

[pullquote]A welcome change of pace from Scroogled, to say the least. ~ Ben Thompson (@monkbent)[/pullquote]

The Microsoft Ad finished at the top of the Kellogg Super Bowl Advertising Review. It celebrated the power of technology. It was emotional. It was personal. It was everything that advertising should be.

[pullquote]A man must be big enough to admit his mistakes, smart enough to profit from them, and strong enough to correct them. ~ John C. Maxwell[/pullquote]

Now, one commercial does not a pattern make, but perhaps this is a sign that Microsoft is finally getting it. As counter-intuitive as may seem, technology is meant to be loved, not to be understood.

Published by

John Kirk

John R. Kirk is a recovering attorney. He has also worked as a financial advisor and a business coach. His love affair with computing started with his purchase of the original Mac in 1985. His primary interest is the field of personal computing (which includes phones, tablets, notebooks and desktops) and his primary focus is on long-term business strategies: What makes a company unique; How do those unique qualities aid or inhibit the success of the company; and why don’t (or can’t) other companies adopt the successful attributes of their competitors?

9 thoughts on “Microsoft’s “Super” Ad”

  1. Please allow me this edit…

    After it’s been developed, as the final step towards commercial design, “As counter-intuitive as may seem, technology is meant to be loved, not to be understood.”

    I can’t think of a single thing of value that doesn’t become more beautiful when it’s understood.

    Otherwise, let’s just close all science and engineering schools and bring on Jersey Shore.

    1. I don’t need to understand how my prosthetic limb works to love that it does and that it helps me. From my many post-modern discussions from the past, understood in this context is simple mental assent. Beauty is more than the sum of the parts. I would say beauty drives something to be understood. Reading Sagan’s first book (if that is the one I am remembering, it was one of his) the irony is the derision he shows irrationality is the irrationality that inspired him to pursue science and the cosmos. What was the fable about the king who wanted to know how the bird’s song is so beautiful by killing it? Or as Picasso put it:

      “Everyone wants to understand art. Why not try to understand the song of a bird? Why does one love the night, flowers, everything around one, without trying to understand them? But in the case of a painting people have to understand. If only they would realize above all that an artist works of necessity, that he himself is only a trifling bit of the world, and that no more importance should be attached to him than to plenty of other things which please us in the world, though we can’t explain them. People who try to explain pictures are usually barking up the wrong tree.”


      1. I didn’t say you need to understand your prosthetic arm, I said, as a last step the designer of the commercial arm should make it so you don’t have to understand it. Understanding it, however, makes the idea and the device all the more beautiful.

        I also agree and appreciate whatever you say about art, the comment was about tech. There is a lot of art in science and tech. Knowing why the sky is blue does not take away from it’s beauty. It enhances the beauty and the marvel. That a snowflake takes on the shapes it does, due to the geometrical structure of the water molecule, and it’s elements, is even more beautiful and wonderous, that just looking at a snowflake. There’s a lot of art in science!

        1. Sometimes it is hard see beyond the geekery. I think you do.

          “After a certain high level of technical skill is achieved, science and art tend to coalesce in esthetics, plasticity, and form. The greatest scientists are artists as well.” Albert Einstein.


    2. “I can’t think of a single thing of value that doesn’t become more beautiful when it’s understood.” – klahanas

      Women, love, God. Better to love them than to pretend you understand them.

      For Geeks, understanding is part of the enjoyment just as understanding how a car works was part of the enjoyment of driving for my father and grandfather. But for most people a tool is a vehicle. I frankly don’t care how my car works, I just want it to get me where I want to go. And if it satisfies me emotionally while its doing it by giving me a comfortable, secure ride, all the better.

      1. Ah, but just think how beautifully overwhelming it would be if we DID understand them? 🙂
        True, tech should be intuitive. Some would argue that intuition comes with understanding, but I digress… The better you understand tech, the better it will serve you. If you’re content, that’s great. One size does not fit all.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *