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Microsoft's unXcellent math adventure in new Surface 2 ad

A new billboard for the Surface 2 features an Excel calculation that seems not to stand up when, for example, using one's fingers.

Miscalculations? Sarah Tew/CNET

Doing great ads is hard.

In fact, I'd say it's harder than math.

With math, you have machines that can do it all for you. You just have to punch in the numbers, press enter, and the answer comes out.

Which is why it's a touch unfortunate that a new billboard for Microsoft's Surface 2 seems to have miscalculated, despite using Excel.

As Apple Insider reports, the ad shows a budget plan for a Hawaii vacation.

The numbers, as presented by Apple Insider, are these: AirFare, $2,500. Hotel, $4,000. Car, $500. Food, $1,500. Dive Rentals, $500. Surf Rentals, $200. Other excursions, $300.

When these were run through the Surface 2's Excel, the addition came to $9,000.

When they're run through many heads, they might come to $9,500.

Naturally, those on the Apple side of life will be reminded of Frank Shaw, Microsoft's corporate vice president of communications.

When Apple released new iWork and iLife, Shaw offered of the new iPad: "It's much harder to get work done on a device that lacks precision input and a desktop for true side-by-side multitasking.

Yet here's an ad that seems to show that precision output on the Surface 2 may not be too precise.

Moreover, Microsoft did just launch an ad that implies very heavily that, unlike the iPad, the Surface 2 is for "real work."

Perhaps vacation budgets are too frivolous.

Everyone makes mistakes. And the last time I met an art director who could add up (or spell, for that matter) was around 1998. But after the art directors, there are account executives and clients who must surely have checked this math.

I have contacted Microsoft to ask whether this ad truly adds up and will update, should I hear.

It does seem a touch careless when touting your business superiority to feature apparently erroneous calculations, especially when they could be done with a pen and a piece of paper.

Or just a head.