Microsoft makes Windows Phone commercial, sells iPhone instead

Microsoft has released a new commercial for the Windows Phone Nokia Lumia 920, and in it they show off both Apple's iPhone 5 and Samsung's Galaxy S. A lot. So much, in fact, it's hard to know what the commercial is about until the very end, when the Lumia 920 finally makes an appearance. Anyone outside Microsoft see the problem there?

The theme is: Don't fight. Switch. The setting is a wedding where the groom and the bride's side both use different phone platforms, and quickly get into a heated, and pretty funny war of insults that escalates into full-blown Mobile Kombat. When nothing but dust and decimation remains, the waiters wonder if Lumia couldn't just help them all get along.

Here's what Microsoft's Michael Stroh had to say on the Windows Blog:

I chuckled when I first saw the spot. As you’ll see, it plays off the strong—even irrationally strong—feelings some of us harbor about the technology in our purses and pockets. You might recognize someone you’ve met among the wedding guests. You might see shades of yourself. I sure did—and smiled.

I did as well. And it wouldn't be out of place on a late night comedy show. Actually, it would kill as comedy. But this isn't comedy, it's the real, brutal, smartphone market, and here is that Microsoft is promoting Apple and Samsung over their own brands, and that's exactly what happens to them in the market already. Apple had a "switcher" campaign for the Mac many years ago, and while they had a generic "PC" character, he was seldom if ever branded, and there certainly wasn't ever any recognizable, competing hardware in the frame.

Ultimately, however, I didn't really end up caring any more about Windows Phone than I did at the beginning, and that makes it a pretty ineffective commercial. Give it a watch and tell me what you think. Anything there that's better than, I don't know, say Microsoft actually releasing an XPhone Halo edition?

Source: Windows Phone via WPCentral

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, The TV Show, Vector, ZEN & TECH, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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There are 59 comments. Add yours.

Divegeek says:

I just watched it over at android central. I think it shows the great features of both iOS and Android, but doesn't show any thing of substance about the M$ phone. It does show the bickering in a humorous light though.

ianberg says:

Yes it's like the clickety-clack Microsoft Surface commercials that showcase no features nor functions of the device. Too bad it doesn't show the waiters taking photos of the brawl & sending them to Instagram... d'oh!

kravex says:

" showcase no features nor functions of the device"

Must have been made by someone from the car industry.

Daniel Rubino says:

Rene, I have to disagree with you here big time as I think you missed the point.

Ads are not to understood in a vacuum. Nor are they meant to "sell" the device. They're meant to pique interest in the consumer--that's advertising 101. You only have 30/60 seconds to get and maintain viewer's attention--it's rarely about the product, it's about the image. C'mon, channel your inner Drapper ;)

All winter/spring Microsoft has been running Windows Phone 8 commercials on TV ad nasuem. Those were the Jessica Alba/Gwen Stefani ones focusing on the Tiles/personal aspect of the phone. This ad takes a very different approach: humorous, entertaining, poking fun at their rivalries. It's so that people who see the ad will be aware of Windows Phone next time they walk into an AT&T or Best Buy "Oh, that's that yellow phone I saw on TV the other day".

There isn't a single 30 or 60 second ad that has in and of itself sold a product. It's part of a broader image and campaign, but if you view just in isolation you can pick it apart.

The fact is, it's a fun(ny) ad and gets people talking. It's no different than Samsung's iSheep ad making fun of Apple fans waiting in line and we all see that Samsung is riding mighty high today off of that line of attack.

"Microsoft is promoting Apple and Samsung over their own brands"

If you think that was "promoting" Apple and Samsung over their brand as oppose to satire, ergo making fun of them, then I'm not sure what to say exactly. All I know is satire can be very effective.

Rene Ritchie says:

Yeah, I am channeling my Draper -- and I worked in product marketing for a decade. No way Draper lets the competition get that much screen time or brand recognition.

Most people don't pay much attention to commercials. They see glimpses between getting snacks, chatting, switching channels, and other distractions. They don't get branded satire, they only see the brands.

When you make a commercial, you need to make it survive low attention environments. That's why commercials are often so brand-crazy, and why product placements are so in-your-face about brands.

Samsung's done this type of commercial before, making fun of iPhone owners. That was a brand behind, and arguably still pretty bad.

Glancing at this commercial, 90% of the time, you wouldn't even know it was for Windows Phone, and that really is a problem.

I want Windows Phone to succeed, I just wish they'd give it a much better chance than this.

Halo phone, Daniel! Halo. Phone!!!!

Josh Beshears says:

The fact that you have a article talking about a windows phone ad on a iphone site tells me this ad worked.

Emeroid says:

But it doesn't tell everybody that. I showed it around, not a single person I knew said it was a Windows ad.
It worked but only in so far as it grabbed attention. It didn't promote what it was designed to promote.

jpf22467#IM says:

Wait a min Emeroid, you showed this ad (the 1 min ad, that spent the last 15 seconds showing a close up of the windows phone and talking about it), and no one knew what the ad was about???? Did they speak english?

dannyd86 says:

I agree Rene. I'd add that Windows Phone, and windows 8 in general has some weird marketing behind it. Hard to tell who there targeting. No real clear message. And no real effort. Like they're confident the product will sell itself.

Leaving the road for blackberry to dominate that #3 spot all day long.

demontooth says:

I'll admit I would probably buy a halo Xphone.

tqmcguire says:

I showed my wife, a Windows Phone 8 user, this commercial. We laughed. It was a funny commercial, I'll give it that. We laughed about the guy yelling at Siri for karate, old people with iPhones, and we made fun of the old Samsung "yep, simple as that," commercial by touching our phones together. Then I asked her what she learned. She said mainly Galaxy phones can share by touching. But the real telling thing here? 20 seconds after it was over she asked, "Wait, was that a commercial for my phone?" And this was after my encouragement to watch it and pay close attention.

Trappiste says:

This ad has now been featured on every site I have visited this morning. And it is the first WP ad that has done that. Sure, there have been ads focused on the superior Lumia camera technology, the ease of use vs. competing platforms, etc. I do not remember a single one of those, though I know I saw them.

This is the best WP ad yet.

mrmdj31675 says:

It was a glorified Nokia Lumia 920/pro AT&t ad, and clearly a blatant attack against any carrier which does not sell Nokia devices (more especifically the Qualcomm based CDMA carriers, which Microsoft is treating as unwanted stepchildren since they dropped Windows Mobile for Windows Phone).

Coincidence? I say No. This was a message to the OEMS and carriers not participating that Nokia and AT&T are their preferred OEM and Carrier. What would be next?

scatteredthings says:

I can see both sides of the argument. On reflection, however, I think where the ad really failed in its message is that it was this: "People are passionate - to the point of violence - about iPhone and Android/Samsung (what great phones they must be to inspire such emotion). Windows Phone, on the other hand, is for dispassionate waiters who watch other people living their lives, but never join the party/fight."

unraveledideas says:

I was going to write a reply arguing this was a great commercial (I have and love my Lumia 920), but now I think I agree with Renee. My first thought was "Hey, just like the commercials Samsung used to gain traction", but then I realized that this commercial doesn't show a single feature of the 920 except it comes in red and yellow. If they just added a few more shots of the phone, how it simply integrates all the social media for sharing such an epic event etc. that would have been great. As it is... not so much.

mrmdj31675 says:

Besides, that commercial of Microsoft was a glorified Nokia/AT&T commercial than anything else, a point which Rubino misses. If it was Samsung making a glorified commercial for the Ativ S, or what ever exclusive device they have in store for Sprint, he will see your point.

Once again, Daniel showing his Pro Nokia/Pro AT&T bias, yet he won't admit it nor say why microsoft is attacking one of their partners. Perhaps because Samsung and Apple are doing what Nokia clearly refuses to do for the CDMA community (and please, Verizon is not the only national CDMA carrier on postpaid and prepaid).

iSRS says:

Those celeb ads were nice, but didn't make me want their phones. Even the old PowerBook ads, I never believe the celebrity actually uses the product 90% of the time. As a matter of fact, a few weeks ago, No Doubt posted a picture on its official Instagram feed of Gwen and Tony, writing songs, in the studio. A MacBook Pro and an iPhone 4/4S with them. Granted, the iPhone could have been Tony's, but no Windows phone in site.

Marcelo Zaca says:

Daniel Rubino, that's great observation. Agreed.

mrmdj31675 says:

Actually, his observations are clearly BLURRED beyond logic due to his pro Nokia/AT&T bias. I bet he would be bashing Samsung if they had a similar ad glorifying the Ativ S and a carrier like US Cellular or perhaps Sprint!

David Hroncheck says:

The problem with the satire in the advert is that it's ambiguous regarding the path to the goal; That Lumia is the answer.

For the target demographic, first time smartphone customers, one could take away the message that if you buy Apple or Samsung you're going to love it so much that you could become dysfunctional.

What if the roles were switched to Coca-Cola and Pepsi with RC Cola in for Lumia? Do you really think you'd be driven to try RC? I think you'd be reminded you want a Coke instead.

IIJBII says:

That ad was awful for windows phone.

iSRS says:

Apple's logo got as much air time as Microsoft's. still, funny

thesorehead says:

I liked the ad, especially its lighthearted silliness (I can't get the Apple tattooed on some dudes flabby chest, who then gets decked, out of my mind) - but I have to agree at least in part. The Nokias at the end were essentially a punchline, and if you don't stick around for the whole ad you won't get it.

Basically we needed to see WP and/or Nokia earlier in the piece.

benjimen says:

Windows Phone's biggest problem is Windows 8. I've been using it for about a month now, and while it's not horrible, it doesn't move me to switch from iOS to Windows 8 -- it makes me appreciate my iPad/iPhone even more. Prior to getting Windows 8, I'd thought about going all-Windows... not any more, regardless of what advertising is done by Microsoft.

ScottAB says:

Windows 8 is not the same at Windows Phone 8. Fortunately WP8 works well on a phone; Win8 works on tablets and is a work-in-progress on a desktop.
-SAB
(WinPhone refugee with an iPhone 5 due to the app gap)

benjimen says:

Duh... Regardless, as I said, Windows 8 steers potential users away from WindowsPhone. Thanks though for stopping by ;-)

blueyestm says:

That commercial may not have show cased the Lumia as much as it could have but that was one fricken hilarious commercial. I loved it. I do not, however, like the Surface commercials. Those bug the ever loving heck out of me.

SockRolid says:

Note to Microsoft marketing department: you mention iPhone, you lose.
It's that simple.

Steveo#IM says:

I can't believe everyone is arguing about the whether or not the commercial is effective...doesn't that kind of prove the commercial's point?

dannyd86 says:

People on mobile nations discuss everything, just because you see a topic here, or even on all tech blogs accross the Web, doesn't mean an average consumer will even notice it

vianar says:

I liked it, good for a laugh. Didn't make me want a windows phone but made me want to see a battle like this first hand, it would be hilarious to watch. "search karate" that's awesome.

R1cki97 says:

i still prefer iphone because i think is better and have a better design, i mean all people may have a different opinion, but i think this commercial is just hilarious, at least they weren't like samsung galaxy ads vs the iphone

rowdys03 says:

Funny...but not much else in my opinion. At least the Samsung ads pointed out features that were either on the Galaxy S3, or ones that the iPhone lacked.

SockRolid says:

Except for those off-color (literally) bad-comedy ads with people standing in line at Apple stores. But yeah, the Seth Rogen / Paul Rudd Superbowl ad was great.

Joebin says:

It is definitely a chuckler of a commercial, and I agree that it doesn't help Microsofts cause at all. It's a head scratcher how bad MS fumbles with mobile technology even in their ads with all the resources they have.

draztikrhymez says:

The wife and I with our non expert marketing backgrounds thought it was hilarious and a great commercial for Windows Phone

ernbrdn says:

I think it's brilliant. I showed this ad to my dad (who still uses a flip phone, and has no idea what siri or Bluetooth is) and he was horrified buy the behavior. He and I and I'm sure each of you work with or know people exactly like that. To him it portrayed fanboys in a bad light, like the windows phone user was the only sane one in the crowd. He was outnumbered but sane. To the tech savvy crowd we are debating and posting about how "our" phone was pictured more, and how Microsoft needs to work on advertising. HELLO!!! We are all giving them far more PR than they could have achieved with this ad alone. On a competing platforms fan site no less. If you ask me "Mission Accomplished"

anthonyjpv says:

You're probably reading too much into it. Its clearly a windows phone advert.
But, it'd have been better if they omit the names of the phones they were "bashing" like Samsung has done. Just not show them, strongly elude to them though. They'd have been better subtle "burns" this way.

sharedbyme says:

I think its just the worst marketing when you feature another company in your advert. Windows and Samsung should have more original ideas.

vemshnub says:

It's not an iPhone commercial so you have to give it a negative review.

sanc333 says:

did Microsoft just made a fool of themselves..
proud to be isheep !

west3man says:

*takes out my red pen and rolls up my sleeves*

squirble says:

Every time I've seen this commercial, it's been after one of the other commercials (Grant Hill, Gwen Stefani, etc.) I think this is a great marketing strategy. You may not be able to tell from the beginning that it's a Windows phone commercial but you know for sure that it is not an iPhone or Samsung commercial.

west3man says:

I didn't think that the branding for Nokia was strong enough but I did think that it was a Lumia commercial. In other words, it may not have been a Windows phone commercial but it certainly was one for the Lumia, specifically. I'm just not sure that the Lumia name was as prominent as, say, the Apple logo on the dude's chest.

jpf22467#IM says:

I have had an iphone since the 3G was introduced. I am not bashing iphones or iphone users. But this is why so many people make fun of Apple fans. The ad was bashing iphones. the only feature that is showed was a man trying to get Siri to work (with no luck). But somehow, many people on here think the ad was positive for Apple? Did you really see a positive view on the features of the iphone in that ad?

CORYK333 says:

Keep reaching bruh bruh.....trying to get Siri to magically teach him karate and it didn't work, how will Apple ever live that down!!??!!??
A better & more relevant swipe at Apple would have been if they had the guy asking Siri for directions out of the fight to safety and it gave him the wrong ones or something along those lines. Meaning, most average users know about Apples (overblown IMHO) shortcomings with their Maps app, but not that Siri has network/parsing errors.

The only thing that part of the commercial did was make me think of the ending of "Meteor Man" when they touched the books during the fight scene. METEOR MAN FTW!!!!!!!!

bluefish266 says:

First off I'm an iphone user and probably will be for the foreseeable future, but this ad was made for the Superbowl. Microsoft doesn't really care about features at this point. They're just trying to get people to realize that there's another really good phone out there while taking shots at the IOS and Android users. This is just one ad. They'll spend millions in other ads down the road promoting features. This one did exactly what it was supposed to do. Make people laugh and remember the Windows Phone 8. Ha ha ha ha. So funny :)

asuperstarr says:

This is a good commercial. Now if Microsoft could just make products just as good.

kidkb1 says:

Major fail. Hilarious but I didn't learn anything of substance about the phone.

TekNiKal says:

Some of you apparently missed the point of the commercial. Humor. "Don't fight. Switch."

"Search karate! Karate!" LOL!

Janne Viljanen says:

Ad is fun, but it doesn't give the right perspective of the topic, the Windows Phone 8. Main problem is that Microsoft threw Nokia about a decade back in development history. On user perspective, it doesn't mean a thing, if the phone's OS is iOS or Android or Windows Phone or anything else. The main thing is the usability and for what purpose the phone is purchased for. I'm using currently Lumia 920 and N8, I can honestly say that both of them are amazing products, both of them will be excellent chooses. So there will be something available for ever one, go and check them out by yourself.

Shadow Girl says:

The title of this article doesn't make sense. In the commercial it shows the Samsung phones as the "cooler" better option, and that iPhones are for old people and are a "one trick pony". How does it sell iPhone instead?
Anyway, although I have had both, Android smokes Apple iOS, I still think this commercial was great. Very funny. However, I don't think anyone that has the capability of Android in their hands would jump to Windows. Not yet anyway. Windows has a long way to go.

Petar P says:

I agree with Rene. This ad just doesn't work. It shows other phones and puts them in the eyes of the audience. It shows the War of the Fanboys.

Most of the people here that says that it works, well, it works for them because they are following the technical side of the things. Reading blogs, following companies products and know about this Nokia way before the AD. Basically they are geeks.

But take a common 13-15 year old girl, that cares only about clothes and glitter, would she ask her father to buy her Nokia phone once she sees this AD? No. M$ need to find out a way to be attractive, just like Samsung, they are trying to make the competition look bad, instead of make themselves looking good. And this is the power of Apple, or at least it was not so long ago.

Rose Morle says:

First off I'm an iphone user and probably will be for the foreseeable future, but this ad was made for the Superbowl. Its clearly a windows phone advert. But, it'd have been better if they omit the names of the phones they were "bashing" like Samsung has done.

http://seasiainfotech.com