There's a phrase which says "There is no such thing as bad publicity" and while I would generally not agree with this phrase, Microsoft's latest "Smoked by Windows Phone" campaign might be the worst idea to advertize Windows Phone's benefits, I've ever seen. I said it before, that in general, I'm not a big fan of comparisons. Either my product is strong enough on its own, that it can attracts customers, or it's not. If it's not, I have to redesign and improve it to make it more appealing to customers. And if I think I'm better than my competition, time will tell this story anyway; I don't have to prove it with a pseudo-competition ad campaign.
Microsoft's "Smoked by Windows Phone" is such an example how it can go even worse. It started as a kind of show-competition during Microsoft's recent CES 2012 presentation where CES attendees were asked to perform pre-defined tasks against a Windows Phone. If the non-Windows Phone won, the user got US$ 100, if the Windows Phone won the user was able to exchange his/her Android/iOS/webOS phone against a Windows Phone. So far so good and kind of funny - as a one time event for an exhibition. Microsoft repeated the same game at the recent Mobile World Congress (this time with 100 Euro - for sure) but went even further, by turning it into a full-blown advertising campaign, involving web commercials and the company's own retail stores.
Now, Sahas Katta wrote on his blog that he was smoked by Windows Phone, "just because". But what happened? Yesterday, he headed down to the Santa Clara Microsoft Store to attend the "Smoked by Windows Phone" competition there and his task was: "Bring up the weather of two different cities. The one who could do that first would win." He describes his feeling like he "struck gold" since he knew he already had two weather widgets on his Samsung Galaxy Nexus' homescreen".
To make a long story short (read his full report on Sahas' blog), he won the contest but lost anyway - "just because". The Santa Clara store employees found 1000 reasons after he performed the task faster on his Android 4.0-powered Samsung Galaxy Nexus than the employee did on her Windows Phone, even if Saha confirmed that it was a split-second later only. However, he hadn't to unlock his homescreen while the Windows Phone's homescreen had to be unlocked, according to Saha this made the difference.
I don't want to complain Microsoft for the store employees behaviors, they badly failed in the competition and in its arguments later, but I want to blame Microsoft (again) for this ad-campaign! What is a campaign good for, where some tasks might be performed faster than on a competitive platform? You know that I'm still and always was a big Windows Phone fan and therefore I even agreed to appear in the German Windows Phone launch campaign back in 2010 on city blow-ups across Berlin because I fully stand behind Windows Phone!
But I have also to admit, that there are a couple of dozen tasks, Windows Phone is even totally unable to perform, doesn't matter how much time I would give it! So having this kind of cherry-picking isn't showing and explaining all the benefits of Windows Phone but in my humble opinion it hurts! I might have a different view on this topic, since I'm neither an American nor living in the U.S. and Europeans might have a different point of view. Therefore I'm really happy that the "Smoked by Windows" campaign hasn't made it across the pond so far, but anyway. In my humble opinion this shit storm, Saha's blog posting generated is hurting Windows Phone more than it helps. Again, in this case I don't believe in "there is no such thing as bad publicity" but I have to ask Microsoft: Really? Do you really need such a bad publicity to make Windows Phone a success?
Cheers ~ Arne