Remember the kid that changed over summer?
A long time ago, 1985 to be precise, in a town far north of here, I bumped into a kid from my school. The summer holidays had been and gone, the autumn term was in full swing. There he was resplendent in a biker jacket, 501 jeans, white t-shirt… it was like his genes had been spliced with Nick Kamen’s. Raybans too, and back in 1985, that was some expenditure.
What’s so weird about that you ask?
Well he was what people used to refer to as the ‘nerd’, the bright awkward kid. It was a seismic change. He even changed the way he spoke.
This kid had gone from geek to tough cool kid in the space of six weeks.
Or so he thought. You see in his bubble he would of course be stripping down in the launderette to gasps of female appreciation. But in our world, he was so ridiculously fake that it wasn’t even worth laughing at.
People used to just stare open mouthed at him. But he soldiered on, dropping his old friends and organizing parties for the cooler kids in school.
He was constantly talking about his Italian girlfriends. I don’t remember there being a massive Italian contingent in Ossett, but there you go.
After a few years it had worked. Most people didn’t remember what he used to be like. He was now eminently cool. But he had to go through quite a bit of pain and ridicule to get there. I did admire his perseverance and thick skin.
I remember all this because I just saw the latest Microsoft Surface ad
Here’s a brand that’s really going for it. It’s thrown away all the clothes their mum bought for them, hit Primark and Topshop and gone mental.
The Surface ad is almost like a bucketlist of trends that Microsoft imagine are cool to be associated with.
We’re going from Glee to street dance crews to multiculturalism, hipster geeks, execs all dancing and moving along to a sub Stomp backing track.
I think they may have asked Rylan from X Factor to concept it.
May be I’m being harsh. But Microsoft has long been looking for ways to shift its nerdy image. Apple, the accepted cool kid in the class, managed to mug Microsoft and get everyone laughing at them. So you can understand why they’re trying to do this. Sure the USPs are all there to be seen. But really? It gave me a headache.
Take a look at it in association with the previous internet explorer ad.
And you can see why I reckon Microsoft goes on about having ‘Italian’ girlfriends.
So ultimately will it work? Well it did for the kid back at school.
But sadly in Microsoft’s case, strutting around with a pair of Raybans on isn’t enough. The products have to deliver. And if they do that, and stick with what they’re doing, maybe just MAYBE people might start thinking of them as cool too.
But I get the feeling this whole approach is being engineered by people who just want to be ‘cool’. But I don’t think they get it. They should head back to school and check out the coolest kids, they’ll notice one key thing. They make it look effortless. Effort is not cool.