Many consumers have now seen the first ads in Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 campaign. Called "Really?", the spots mock people for acting like zombies at the hands of their mobile devices. The intended message is that the Windows OS can reduce the amount of time people spend staring at their phones.
The campaign gets personal on Facebook, where consumers are being asked to share their "really?" moments. The four winning stories will receive a phone, an XBox Gold membership and other Microsoft products. Since debuting on Tuesday the page has accumulated about 225 posts and 320,000 "likes."
The page was created by Deep Focus, which was asked by Microsoft to "create an experience around [the commercials] to get people involved," said CEO Ian Schafer. "How can we amplify the campaign but do it through people? After all, that's what the phone is all about."
Other digital elements include a YouTube channel that contains all the TV spots and videos showing off the phone interface itself. So far it has amassed close to 9,000 subscribers.
Microsoft also forged a partnership with Someecards.com that consists of four "Really?" cards with sayings like "I would love to get some face time with you when your face isn't buried in your phone." However, except for the word "Really?" at the top of the page, there's no Microsoft branding associated with the cards.
Windows Phone 7's defining characteristic, according to the company, is a "Live Tiles" screen that allows the user to check all his relevant accounts - Outlook, Facebook, Twitter, etc. - at a glance.
"The campaign is built on a consumer insight that we believe will really resonate with people," said Todd Peters, VP of Microsoft's mobile communications marketing group, in a blog post. "As a society we’re spending more time heads-down with our phones than we are interacting with the people we’re sitting right in front of."
"What we’re saying is, 'You’re not a bad person,'" he continued. "'We just think you have a poorly designed phone. Now take a look, consider us, and we’ll show you how we’re different.'”
The centerpiece of the effort is a TV campaign from Crispin Porter + Bogusky that shows people absorbed in their phones when they should be focusing on something else, like performing surgery or walking down the aisle. The people being ignored indignantly ask, "Really?"
Peters said the TV campaign would ultimately be the "biggest in the history of the mobile business, with several spots running on shows like "Hawaii Five-0," "Bones," and "Saturday Night Live" through the holiday season.
"If you don’t see them, then we’re not doing our jobs," he said.
Correction: An earlier version of the story indicated Windows Phone 7 is Microsoft's first entry into the smart-phone market.
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Douglas Quenqua is a journalist based in Brooklyn, NY who writes about culture and technology. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Wired, The New York Observer, and Fortune.
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