by Shane O'Neill

First Windows Phone 7 Ad: A Revolution in the Desert?

Sep 07, 2010
Data Center

Microsoft unveiled Windows Phone 7 in a surprise trailer before a secret showing of "Lawrence of Arabia." Did they come up dry?

So now we know where some of that $500 million in Windows Phone 7 marketing money is going.

Microsoft gave a first look at Windows Phone 7 in a teaser that played before Secret Cinema showings of the 1962 film classic “Lawrence of Arabia” last weekend.

Ok so it’s not exactly prime-time television, but I give Microsoft points for choosing an event with some street cred. Somewhere the great Peter O’Toole is smiling.

Secret Cinema is a growing movement in London to spruce up the tired multiplex experience. Classic movies are shown each month in exotic locations and actors are hired to dress up as characters from the movie. Attendees are given clues, but do not know the location until a day or two before the showing, and you don’t know what movie is playing until you show up. Windows Phone 7 is now an official Secret Cinema partner.

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Nearly 15,000 cinema fans showed up for the three Lawrence of Arabia screenings over the weekend at London’s Alexandra Palace. The event included actors and attendees in Bedouin attire, belly dancers, fake deserts (with real sand) and actual camels and donkeys.

Secret Cinema has also recently had successful screenings for “Blade Runner” and “The Warriors.”

The Windows Phone 7 ad itself is fittingly desert-themed and conjures up blazing heat, but its quality is only lukewarm. At a minute long, the ad only needs to be 30 seconds (there’s too much dead time at the beginning). The leisurely pace appears to be a spoof of and homage to scenes from “Lawrence of Arabia”, one of the longest and slowest-moving films ever. Or perhaps it’s a reference to how much time it’s taken Microsoft to bring Windows Phone 7 to market, or how dehydrated the company must be after such a long walk in the mobile desert (This stuff writes itself, I’ll tell ya).

In the ad, a blurred Windows Phone 7 phone moves slowly through the desert from deep background and into focus in the foreground as hip hop infused Middle Eastern music plays. Once the music finally starts about 20 seconds in, the ad becomes genuinely visceral. It ends with the words “The Revolution is coming…” on the screen, after which the phone’s tile-based UI design appears. Smartphone revolution? Um, nice try Microsoft, but everybody knows the smartphone revolution is well underway and Microsoft had nothing to do with it.

No interface features are shown, but hey, it’s just a teaser. And Microsoft should get credit for trying to unveil Windows Phone 7 in an authentic way. I, for one, did not think it would happen at a grassroots event for cinema lovers … with belly dancers.

Watch the ad here and share your thoughts on Windows Phone 7’s advertising debut.

Shane O’Neill covers Microsoft, Windows, Operating Systems, Productivity Apps and Online Services for Follow Shane on Twitter @smoneill. Follow everything from on Twitter @CIOonline. Email Shane at