Really?!  (Source: Microsoft/Crispin Porter + Bogusky)

Don't text and drive...  (Source: Microsoft/Crispin Porter + Bogusky)
Commercials come from the same firm that brought us "Laptop Hunters"

Following up on its soft launch of Windows Phone 7 yesterday in New York City (hardware does not ship until November 8 in the U.S.), Microsoft has aired new commercials plugging the platform.

Advertising and Microsoft don't always play nicely together.  While Apple was airing its incredibly successful "Get a Mac" commercials, Microsoft was pitching campaigns like "Don't Blame Vista" and the ill-fated, obtuse Jerry Seinfeld-Bill Gates commercials.

Recently, Microsoft showed some signs of improvement with its recent "I'm a PC" and "Laptop Hunters" series of commercials, both of which struck on peoples' populist sensibilities.  

For those hits, though, it had another glaring miss, though -- its advertisement for its Kin smartphone.  Kin debuted a series of bizarre commercials, which included a man appearing to stalk his ex-lover.

Now, however, Microsoft is back for more with its new Windows Phone 7 ad campaign. The new commercials are by Crispin Porter + Bogusky -- the advertising firm behind both the Seinfeld-Gates commercials and the more successful "I'm a PC"/"Laptop Hunters" commercials.

The first one (video) features a bunch of people who 
should be paying attention with their heads glued to their phones.  There's the guy on the beach among girls in bikinis, a women running, a masseuse, a man sharing an intimate evening with his wife, a surgeon, a father playing catch with his son, and more.  All are intently fixed on one thing -- their phones -- when they clearly should be focusing their attention elsewhere.

Friends, loved-ones, lovers, and passerbys all deliver the same punchline -- "Really?!" -- channeling their best inner Seth Meyers/Amy Poehler (who made that phrase famous on 
Saturday Night Live).

And the commercial wraps up with the line, "It's time for a phone to save us from our phones.  New Windows Phone, designed to get you in, out, and back to life."

The text "Be here now." then rolls.  The commercial is set to Edvard Grieg's Opus 23 (better known as "In the Hall of the Mountain King").

second commercial (video) is set to Donovan's "Season of the Witch" and shows a gathering of people in an urban area all ensorcelled by their smartphones.  The commercial concludes with the same lines.  

It's not quite as funny, but still gets the idea across.

The good thing about Microsoft's new phone commercials is they seem to convey what Microsoft feels is its strongest point -- an easy to use interface.  Whether that assertion is valid remains to be seen when it puts its phone in the hands of the masses next month.  For now, though, it seems to do the job in driving home the company's opinion on this point.

With Microsoft's market share dropping faster than a phone in a urinal (also in the first commercial!), the company is looking for a hit.  

David Webster, chief strategy officer in Microsoft's central marketing group, comments to

Obviously as a challenger brand, our first job here is to break through. Get noticed, get talked about, have a contrarian point of view, be a little edgy. Let's face it, it's not like there's any shortage of smartphones and smartphone ads in the world today.  Our sentiment was that if we could have an insight to drive the campaign that flipped the category on its head, then all the dollars that other people are spending glorifying becoming lost in your screen or melding with your phone are actually making our point for us.

The point that we want to make with the phone advertising is not to say that using your phone in public situations is not ever appropriate.  Our point is to say that the right phone design can allow you to get in, get that done and get back out, which is really what I think most people would strive to do if the phone didn't interfere with that by making them do too many steps, go down too many silos, switch paths too many times.

The commercials are part of a reported half-billion dollar (U.S.) campaign by Microsoft to try to push its new phone OS, which arrives three years after the first iPhone and two years after Google published its Android source code.

Even if the new ads miss the mark in public appeal, Microsoft could always recruit their chief executive Steve Ballmer to advertise the phone.  He's been known to do an ad (video) or two (video) in his spare time.

"Nowadays you can buy a CPU cheaper than the CPU fan." -- Unnamed AMD executive

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