by Shane O'Neill

Microsoft’s ‘Family’ TV Ads Show the Power of Syncing Data

Nov 07, 20114 mins
Cloud ComputingComputers and PeripheralsLaptops

Microsoft gets its act together in new TV spots, conveying clearly and with humor how its Windows-based devices work together with the cloud to get stuff done.

In case you haven’t noticed while watching NFL games or CSI, Microsoft is in full-on advertising mode with a slew of TV ads emphasizing how families and friends can sync and share data across devices.

Also part of the recent Microsoft marketing blitz is a Windows Phone event today in New York City where a six-story Windows Phone was erected in Herald Square. Subtle it is not. The purpose of the event is to announce the availability of new Windows Phones: the Samsung Focus S and Focus Flash from AT&T; the HTC Radar from T-Mobile (announced last week); and the HTC Titan from AT&T (coming soon).

So lest you think Microsoft is throwing in the towel on Windows Phones just because no one is buying them, you’re dead wrong. The company is pouring money into Windows Phones as if they were, you know, the iPhone or something.

The phones also play a major part in Microsoft’s new TV ad campaign, “It’s a Great Time to Be a Family.” The clever and mildly humorous ads are Microsoft’s best TV spots in years, as they use common family situations to show different devices, software and services working together seamlessly.

Microsoft has tried to convey this message before with its “To the Cloud” TV spots but those ads were silly and vague. The new spots are a little goofy, but they are precise. They answer the question: How can I use a Windows Phone, a Windows 7 PC, and software and cloud storage and sharing services (in this case Windows Live Skydrive) to get stuff done.

In one ad (embedded above) a father is at a supermarket accessing a grocery list on his Windows Phone using Microsoft OneNote. It’s implied that he and his wife can make additions to the shopping list in real time from a PC. As Dad gets to the check-out line more items pop up on the list in real time. The additions are of the sugary variety: soda, candy, chocolate cake. As Dad runs around the store gathering items, he suddenly stops in his tracks, realizing he’s been duped. Cut to his young rascal sons sitting at a laptop at home, giggling and messing with the grocery list. It’s a little too cute, but it gets the point across: Syncing and sharing data is so easy even little kids can do it.

In another spot, a young couple announce they are getting married via a group IM to family members and re immediately inundated with IMs and Skype sessions with suggestions for dresses, wedding bands, and food preferences. It’s overwhelming so the woman shuts her Windows 7 laptop and they both sigh. But a second later the man holds up his Windows Phone and there are about 50 new IMs and counting on his phone. Oh family, sometimes there’s too much love to go around!

My favorite spot (embedded above) portrays a dorky father dancing to the Xbox Kinect game “Dance Central 2.” His daughter shoots video of Dad’s wacky dance moves with her Windows Phone, uses the phone to quickly upload the video to Facebook (not Google-owned YouTube mind you) and her brother across the room plays the video on his Samsung Windows 7 laptop. The whole thing happens in real time.

Do people use Microsoft products across devices this seamlessly in real life? No, probably not. But still, these are Microsoft’s best TV spots since “The Laptop Hunters.” They convey the importance of relationships, and how technologies can connect people and help accomplish tasks easier. They use music and action to show the benefits of syncing and sharing data. They show, they don’t tell. And that’s why they work.