Really? New Windows Phone 7 commercials rock

For months I've been saying that marketing, more than technology, would define (or fail to) Windows Phone 7's launch. If Microsoft could only get the messaging right. Earlier today, I posted about how important it is for Microsoft to make phones running its mobile operating system be highly personal. I actually wrote the 1,400-word missive last night, not knowing Microsoft would make personal such a priority; I simply added quotes from today's Windows Phone 7 launch event to make the analysis current. From putting the "P" in personal to smart messaging to simply brilliant advertising, Microsoft has pulled back the curtains on Windows Phone 7 in oh-so right fashion.

Last month, I explained what Microsoft needed to do today: "There must be aggressive aspirational marketing that is at least as good as recent Bing, Internet Explorer and Windows 7 advertising...Microsoft made the right, positive impressions when rebranding Windows Live Search to Bing -- thanks to supporting marketing. Windows Mobile is dead. Long live Windows Phone. It's a new brand that buyers must rightly meet."

I'm wholly impressed with "me," "my" messaging coming from Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer today and also prepared marketing materials. Ballmer couldn't seem to say "my" often enough in describing the Windows Phone 7 experience. The sales pitch was all about making Windows Phone 7 mine (or is that yours?).

But what really rings -- for the visceral appeal and because more people will experience it than the launch marketing material -- is the TV advertising. The first commercial embedded above, "Really?", overdramatizes people obsessed with their cell phones, instead of the real world going on around them. Marketing tagline: "It's time for a phone to save us from our phones." Oh yeah?

Microsoft's marketing isn't just messaging, there's a worldview behind it: Your phone isn't your life. In my post earlier today, I wrote: "Ballmer succinctly stated that Windows Phone 7 is designed so that people can 'get in, out and back to life.' It's savvy marketing, but what if the phone is your life, as it is for many Millennials?" About the people in the commercial I added: "They get in, but they don't get out. It's marketing messaging contradiction." Some Betanews commenters tit-tatted that I misunderstood the commercial's point. I got it. I just didn't agree that the presented worldview will jive with the large number of Millennials who view their cell phones as extensions of their lives. They're not trying to get away from their mobiles at all.

That said, the commercial resonates with my worldview, which is that more people should get off the phone and get to really living. The second tagline says it all: "Be here now." I assume Microsoft is trying to appeal to potential buyers like me, which is OK; there may be other more Millennial-generation-oriented commercials coming later on. Targeting is core to good advertising.

The second commercial, "Season of the Witch", isn't as clever and it's more cerebral. For about one-minute, the camera pans down a street where every person is consumed by his or her cell phone. The same "It's time for a phone to save us from our phones" tagline applies. By the way, no one in either commercial is making phone calls. They're all data obsessed. What's up with that?

I'm a huge fan of Microsoft's marketing campaigns for Bing, Internet Explorer 8 and Windows 7. If the first commercials are any indication, Windows Phone 7 advertising may be even better. Advertise often, Microsoft.

What's your reaction to Windows Phone 7 marketing messaging and advertising? Please answer in comments.

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