Dear Microsoft: this is NOT how to sell Cortana

JC Torres - Feb 16, 2015, 9:00 pm CDT
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Dear Microsoft: this is NOT how to sell Cortana

From time to time, Microsoft is able to come up with video ads that don’t manage to embarrass itself while waging its marketing war against Apple. Remember the Cortana versus Siri ad about speakers? Now that one was done in good taste and has a pretty amusing punchline. Sadly, there are times when Redmond comes out with a video that makes you wonder what the marketing team has been smoking, like this new Cortana vid that is sure to strike a nerve with some members of the female gender.

The message Microsoft is trying to get across is simple enough: Cortana is so smart that she/it can provide users with relevant and timely info better than the competition. Cortana is able to know the user’s preferences and make recommendations based on those. In short, Microsoft is trying to sell Cortana as something a whole lot smarter than Siri, and some Windows Phone users might attest to that.

Unfortunately, the “Breaking Up” ad delivers the message in such a way that may make you forge the point Microsoft was trying to make. The title alone says it all. It likens the move from Siri to Cortana to that of breaking up with a significant other. Given how some people are so attached to their smartphones, that might be an appropriate metaphor. However, considering that Siri and even more so Cortana are portrayed as females, Microsoft might be, hopefully unintentionally, sending the wrong message about what girlfriends are for (hint: they aren’t utilities).

Granted, Microsoft put out this video ad for Valentine’s Day, which fits the break up theme, but that doesn’t excuse a poorly executed marketing campaign. Could they have done better? Could they have come up with a Valentine’s theme that didn’t venture precariously over dangerous territory? Microsoft has proven it has at least some creative chops, so it’s unimaginable that they have suddenly run out of juice, or common sense, for this.

That said, Microsoft does try to even things out by having an add with a female lead. Again, given that Cortana and Siri are portrayed as females, well, you get the idea. Does it make the delivery better? Probably not.


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