There's a lot going on in Crispin Porter + Bogusky's new holiday ads for Microsoft, which broke on Sunday.
First of all, the company is trying sell Windows 7 by way of Xbox and Kinect. The idea is that people love those latter products, and if they knew Microsoft made them, they might be more inclined to buy Windows 7 too. Second, the new campaign suggests using all of these products together as a great way of fostering family fun. Thus, the ads are filled wall to wall with people—laughing, conniving and generally goofing around. The result, unfortunately, is Microsoft soup—a campaign that sells everything and nothing.
The first spot, titled "Epic Share," features a father dancing to an Xbox game that uses the Kinect motion technology. His daughter records his embarrassing moves on her Windows Phone, then sends the footage to her brother, who uploads it to the Web using his Windows 7 PC. Another brother sitting on the couch then shows Dad the online video. Dad just stares blankly, like the imbecile he is, before getting in on the joke and sharing some more silly dance moves. The whole thing feels terribly cluttered, particularly next to Apple's recent minimalist iPad work. The spot is also meant to be funny, but it ends up mostly feeling awkward.
A second spot shows a boy giving a PowerPoint presentation to his parents, explaining why they should get a dog. Inspired, the father, once again a complete fool, makes his own presentation about why he should be allowed to golf on Sundays. "It's a great time to be a family," the tagline says at the end. Except it feels a bit like the opposite.
Each ad closes out by showing a grid of the various characters and products we just saw. It's emblematic of the problem—there's too much going on and not enough of it connects. The ads—dialog free so they can run in 35 countries—are meant to seem endearing and spontaneous. But in the end they feel manufactured. People may love Xbox and Kinect, but these spots are unlikely to turn them into Windows 7 fans as well.
Campaign: "It's a great time to be a family"
Agency: Crispin Porter + Bogusky, Boulder, Colo.