Microsoft’s “Meet Your Match” challenge

MelissaMicrosoft has produced a series of man-on-the street videos comparing the Windows Phone to Android phones and the iPhone. The company wrote about this “Meet Your Match” campaign on the Windows Phone blog, noting some interesting statistics:

“…more than 75,000 Meet Your Match challenges & demos across the US, UK, France and Germany. That’s a big number, but what’s even more impressive is that based on these head-to-head customer challenges, a whopping 88% of the people who took our post-challenge survey thought that Windows Phone was a better match for them than the phone in their pocket.”

75,000 participants is a great sample size. Well done. I’m concerned, however, that Microsoft does not identify the phones that were in participants’ pockets. For all we know, they were pre-paid gas station flip phones.

The praise continues:

“Our Meet Your Match videos are doing equally well. They’ve been viewed on YouTube over 600,000 times and hundreds of thousands times more via our online ads, and 88% of voting YouTube viewers clicked the ‘like’ button.”

That’s great, but liking the video and liking the product are not the same. For example, I love this Honda Pilot commercial, but I don’t want a Honda Pilot.

The videos are well done but kind of silly. There are two that feature the iPhone. In “Liz’s iPhone,” the Windows Phone rep challenges Liz to send a text to her parents with her iPhone, while he does the same with his Windows Phone [1. I’m not sure why the Microsoft rep is sending a text message to a stranger’s parents.]. There’s a brief shot of Liz “typing” on her phone, if that’s what you call what she’s doing. It’s more like tapping the screen wildly (Seriously, what is she doing?). The rep finishes before Liz “even started typing the message.” That’s fine, but the implication that the Windows Phone is better than the iPhone because Microsoft’s rep knows its text app better than Liz knows Apple’s Messages is silly.

Another video features Melissa. The rep challenges her to update Facebook and Twitter from her iPhone before he does the same with his Windows Phone. Of course, she goes for the Facebook app, not the Notification Center, which offers much faster methods of updating both of those services. I admit that the Windows Phone tiles are really nice, but poor Melissa never had a chance, as she used the most time-consuming method to accomplish her assignment.

It’s not a bad campaign [1. In fact, it’s a LOT better than the Galaxy Note Challenge videos from last February.], but not entirely honest, either.

First Windows Phone 7 ad

As a bit of social commentary, I love it. As an advertisement it’s even better.

You’ll notice that it doesn’t explain how the Windows Phone 7 solves the problem. That doesn’t matter. These ads are targeted towards an emotional demographic, which this commenter at TechFlash exemplifies:

“If you don’t get the ads, it’s because you’re one of those people depicted in the ads and you’re in denial. If you haven’t ever been annoyed by a person who seems incapable of putting your phone down, it probably means that you ARE that person. MS is selling to all those people who aren’t you (and maybe some of the ones that are, but have some self awareness and feel some shame for being such tools). If you are what I am calling “normal” for lack of a better word, you might think these ads are very very clever. They might even give you a sense of smug satisfaction. Smug satisfaction sells phones! Or haven’t you noticed? (Yes, fanboys of various stripes, I’m looking at you.)

Pretty much every geek in the U.S. already has an android or an iPhone, yet we’re really only at the birth of the smart phone revolution. So, who else is going to buy phones? The non nerds, i.e., ordinary people, people that want to use the phone as a solution to their needs, not people who’s lifestyles revolve around their phones or around technology in general. The ‘ordinaries’ vastly outnumber the geek demographic, a group that is already saturated with phones. MS is not skating towards the puck. They’re skating at where the puck is going to be. They’re targeting the area that will see growth. It’s a pretty obvious strategy if you think about it, but pretty brilliant that they arrived at it first. (Arguably, Apple got there first, especially with the Facetime ads, but I sense MS is really doing something original here, in the way they’re going after average people.).”

Do you hear the anger in his voice? There are legions of people who detest those who are constantly staring at their phones. That’s who Microsoft is selling to. Well done.

Microsoft hopes too pull off a role reversal: the iPhone is the conformist’s device while the WinPhone 7 is for the disgruntled outliers.