In the 21st century, companies like Apple, Samsung, and Amazon dominate the technology industry, and are known for innovating new products such as the tablet. Apple’s iPad, Samsung’s Galaxy Note, and Amazon’s Kindle Fire are constantly battling each other for a position at the top of the market. One product you won’t hear tossed into the list of top competitors in the industry, however, is Surface, Microsoft’s version of a tablet. The touch screen device includes a kickstand and a thin fold out keyboard that connects to the screen with “click.” The product has yet to garner rave reviews from technology critics, but that hasn’t stopped the company from putting significantly more money into marketing and advertising the product to consumers.
Microsoft Corporation recently announced that by the end of the year, they will have spent $405 million promoting their Surface 2 tablets as well as their Windows 8 operating system. This is nearly a 50% increase from their previous, $241 million marketing budget. The company is also targeting consumers during the holiday season by setting up Windows stores in 600 Best Buy stores across the country.
The newly invigorated focus on the Surface, however, is part of a larger branding campaign: that of the company as a whole. Microsoft has long been deemed a fixture of the past, an antiquated giant that made its name in personal computer operating systems during the 80s and 90s and failed to maintain its position on the cusp of the growing technology industry. Now the underdogs in a market they once revolutionized, Microsoft is working to shed their old image and rename themselves as a young person’s brand. Courting the same target audience as Apple, Samsung, and Amazon, Microsoft is looking for ways to attract millennials (young 20-30 year olds) to their new tablet.
The new advertisements for the Surface RT and Surface Pro speak directly to that goal. The short videos, directed by Jon M. Chu (director of Step Up 2 the Streets) features young people in sleek business attire dancing to music and the rhythm of the signature Surface “click.” When the tablet is put together with the keyboard, it makes a clean and distinctive clicking sound that seems to, in a nutshell, define the brand and company Microsoft is trying to become: hip, stylish, and cutting-edge. The ads include synchronized dance combinations that convey a sense of clean and sophisticated style and bits of breakdancing that embrace the trendy nature of the product. The cool kids, Microsoft seems to be saying, buy the Surface Pro.
Despite the buzz the ads have generated online, Microsoft remains firmly behind in tablet sales. While it makes the list of top vendors, it comes in 5th place behind Apple, Samsung, ASUS, and Amazon Inc. Microsoft will need more than a few creative ads to win back the hearts and minds of technology consumers everywhere.