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New Bing ads fall short of Appleness

Microsoft has moved more quickly into the second phase of its campaign for Bing, the decision engine that fights overload, than it had planned. But why must the ads be so overloaded?

I want to Bing. I want to be Binged.

I want to hear the Binging bells from a million laptops ringing the news that there might be an alternative to Google's dominant bong.

So I was only too delighted to hear that two TV ads have already emerged to do the Binging ringing.

The first so-called anthem spot (ad agencies love to tell clients they need an anthem spot, in the same way that England really, really needs "God Save the Queen"), disappeared almost before it appeared.

The ad seemed, to my timid heart and mind, to be telling viewers that if only they hadn't had their noses stuck in Google searches for most of the day, we might not have needed a financial bailout.

If only you all weren't "lost in the links," you might have prevented your house from being foreclosed and your investment broker from stealing all that money you were hiding from your ex-spouse during the divorce proceedings.

This seems a little harsh on the Googlies. They may not exude enough warmth to heat the outhouse, but to link their links to Bernie Madoff seems a little like blaming Alex Rodriguez for global warming. ("Well, if only you weren't all glued to your TVs watching him hit, you might have been able to sit in the dark and save energy").

I suspect the anthem ad didn't stay on too long, because it feels more complicated than the relationships in "John and Kate Plus 8." In the enthusiasm to make you believe you really are sunk in Searchville, the Bingers felt they had to create a sense of chaos, one that perhaps real people don't feel at all.

Now there's a second TV spot, in which, during various conversations, one party is triggered by the other party's use of a word to give useless search results for that word (watch the video and you'll see what I mean).

This could be funny. This should be funny. But again, the attempt to evoke frenzied overload leaves viewers with a feeling of, no, really, frenzied overload.

It's one thing to dramatize the negative. But it's peculiar to make it seem like it's chaos out there.

Especially as it isn't chaos out there. It certainly doesn't feel like that to people who google as they used to hoover. It feels just faintly annoying sometimes. There's a little too much dust and it's still quite hard to get it under the sofa.

So why don't the creators of the ads mine this annoying feeling to charm their way into people's consciousness?

I'm also left a little perplexed at the idea of Bing being described as a decision engine. I should only use Bing when I want to decide something? Such as whether to go to a Zac Efron movie or stay home and attempt to eat my eyebrows? Again, it's a complex thought that feels neither understandable nor terribly believable.

Some of the performances in this second spot, though, are superb. So I wish I could have just witnessed the whole of the breakfast scene played out in one well-scripted 30-second film. The two actresses would have delivered a funny and winning performance, one that would have made the spot clear, memorable, and loaded just right.

In the attempt to make Google seem like the old, nasty, hairy-nostriled IBM to Bing's cute little Granny Smith, the Bingers mislaid the one thing that made Apple's communication so powerful: the simplicity.

Oh, come on, you didn't know that Bing is trying to be the Apple of search? No one told you? It's there in the ads. You just have to search a little.