Microsoft gets it right with Nokia Lumia ad (clumsily)

The new Microsoft ad for the Lumia shows the company knows it needs to differentiate itself. The question, though, is how can it do that without being prosaic. (Like this ad.)

Chris Matyszczyk
2 min read

There's someone out there for you. Microsoft/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

You know your life has to change. The only question is how.

That seems to be the thought racing around Redmond minds just about now.

On the one hand, the company's Stephen Elop doesn't seem sure what will happen with the Nokia name, though something will.

On the other, Microsoft releases an ad on behalf of Nokia's Lumia phones and tablets that suggests its phones are different. Because they're, um, colorful.

This might be news to those who bought, say, a bright green iPhone 5C.

Still, this ad sadly falls back on an advertising cliche that hasn't been gone long enough to become interesting again.

The world is drab, dreary, Detroitish, says Microsoft. Lumia gadgets bring it color. So everyone who has a Lumia dresses colorfully. And that's how they're "Not Like Everybody Else."

Somewhere, indeed, there is a colorful person just like you who has a Lumia device, the ad promises. We know there aren't many of them, but it's a start. Keep searching.

You can be like the last two sane people on Earth, desperate to find warmth in each other, while the rest of the world plunges into chilly darkness.

It's heartening that Microsoft knows it has to differentiate itself. Windows Phones at least look markedly different from everyone else's. You might not like the tiles, but they come from an individual spirit. Which many would say, Android OS design does not.

However, I wonder if real people believe the world is so terribly dark.

My impression is that they delight in their iPhones and Galaxys, finding them fetching in so many ways. They parade them on the streets and place them on bars as if to say: "Look at me. I'm so very au fait."

If you're going to suggest the rest of the world is miserable, it helps if the rest of the world actually is miserable.

Motorola made this error very badly when it launched its tablets by trying to out-1984 1984 and ended up with something that Milli Vanilli might have rejected.

To say that you're different just because you're colorful will require a far more emotionally involving execution than merely to suggest the whole world is black and white -- when it isn't.

Still, there's little doubt that Microsoft is thinking about being different.

This, in itself, offers hope that it actually will be different. Different from the old Microsoft, that is.