May 10, 2013

Incredibly bad: Microsoft Surface Outdoor Mural

Downtown Manhattan. On West Houston Street.

These painted outdoor murals have been the latest hot thing to do in outdoor advertising for the last two years. In Hipster Brooklyn Williamsburg they are everywhere: Vans, Converse, Levi's etc. The approach is pretty clear: by doing something unusual, something different you are positioning your brand as unusual / different / off mainstream.

But Microsoft? I can't stop laughing. The brand is so mainstream commercial, mass market, that this ill-fated attempt can only be described as laughable. Bad enough that Microsoft tries to position the Surface as cool, and hip, and energetic, and awesome, and god knows what - those TV commercials with all the people dancing and clapping and flipping and shaking are still causing seizures just by thinking of it - but an outdoor mural? What half-brained media planner / marketing manager signed off on this?

Sure thing, Microsoft's advertising dollars are plenty and in the multi millions, and a miss like this sure won't hurt them and is merely a drop in the bucket of what they spend, but I doubt that the advertising effectiveness of this mural is anywhere else but ZERO. Why? Here are the reasons:

A) The New York downtown crowd is very much anti main stream. They barely venture across 14th Street. And do you know where they hang out? Exactly, at the Apple Store. They wouldn't touch a Surface with a pair of pliers.

B) That leaves the tourists as the audience. Be assured most of them are not from New York, and can probably be targeted via traditional advertising. A more mainstream billboard on Times Square will be so much more effective getting to them. Plus, Times Square is where all of them go. Houston Street will get you a fraction.

C) The creative execution. Don't even get me started. This is so awfully bad and poorly done. What is the point of this mural? A six year old child can draw a better tablet / computer  / laptop. This does absolutely nothing. I don't even know what the message is here. It would at least have been a fraction of cool if they had left the damn 'Microsoft' logo off, so people will ask themselves 'What is Surface'? and might go home and google it. But this? I can't stop laughing. Someone should get fired for this.


Message: -1, there just is none
Creative: -1, a toddler can do better
Context: -1, just wrong
Impact: -1, impact is zero, trust me
Intangibles: -1, there are none

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