Microsoft's clever 'family' marketing campaign is exceptional

Microsoft's "It's a great time to be a family" marketing campaign keeps getting better. This ranks as one of my favorite high-tech promotionals in a decade and accomplishes something Microsoft has never successfully done in a mass-marketing campaign -- clearly show the benefits of multiple products working together. I spotted two more videos late today.

Before Microsoft launched the "I'm a PC" campaign three years ago, I recommended firing then new ad agency Crispin Porter & Bogusky, after the Chairman Bill Gates and Comedian Jerry Seinfeld commercials aired. But I was wrong to make the recommendation. The agency has produced for Microsoft a string of creative hits, of which the family campaign is just the most recent.

As I explained about two weeks ago, the campaign sells the Microsoft lifestyle -- emphasizing relationships and technology enabling them. There's a real familiarity, because family is something most people can relate to. It's not like most of us are harvested in test tubes. The commercials are also clever, in the storytelling and how they present the benefits of multiple products. Keyword: Benefits. Not features, but benefits people gain from them.

In the commercial embedded above, a dad shops for groceries from a list on his phone. Yeah, big deal. So he has a shopping list. What's special about that? But the list updates in -- real time. From the family's Windows 7 PC. Dad uses OneNote on his Windows Phone, and it can dynamically sync via SkyDrive. This Microsoft video explains how. The products aren't all necessarily named -- OneNote, SkyDrive, sync, Windows Phone and Windows 7 -- but the benefits are clear.

As I've been saying for years, sync is the killer application for the connected age and it's something the commercial above and another "Tech-No" I wrote about two weeks ago demonstrate. BetaNews reader John Crane commented about the latter:

That epic sharing happened a couple of time in my extended family. We were having separate family get-togethers in two different locations across and country and were able to share videos and photos with each other in real time. We have a couple Apple PC holdouts in my family, but most everybody else uses Windows.

Apple's iCloud is all the rage right now, in part because it's new. It's a sync service more than anything else. But the focus is more about individuals -- making your stuff available where you want it. Microsoft's approach with its cloud sync marketing emphasizes sharing with others -- an aspiring message conveyed through the family marketing campaign.

No one talks in the TV commercials, which like those from previous campaigns will be reshot for each locality -- 34 international markets. Globalization may be easier for this campaign than others, since there's no dialogue. In watching the commercials, I find the no-dialog approach very effective. My attention is drawn to activity taking place around the different devices and services.

Have you seen the movie "Blade Runner" directed by Ridley Scott? At the movie studio's insistence, the final commercial release included voice by actor Harrison Ford. Scott later released "Blade Runner" director's cut without the voice over, and it's a much better movie for it. What's that saying? Silence is golden. Sometimes it is -- well, there is musical background.

The marketing campaign runs across different media. I spotted the embedded commercials this evening at, while doing some background research on Apple's Siri service outage. They started playing immediately, unprompted, too, which is really annoying.

I'm looking forward to the next commercials.

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