Microsoft's advertising campaign for its new mobile phone is neither app-crazy nor a snowman robot.
In a massive marketing campaign that will cost Microsoft $100 million, the company is issuing a manifesto rallying people to spend less time with their phones.
You read that right: less, not more.
Windows Phone 7, which began selling Monday in the U.S., will help people break their zombielike fixations with their phone screens, Microsoft says.
The ads probably will be inescapable this holiday season, as Micro-soft throws its weight behind a hoped-for comeback in the mobile phone market.
“There’s been a bit of a dark side to the relationship people are developing with their phones,” said David Webster, chief strategy officer of Microsoft’s Central Marketing Group. “We’ve all seen this. Folks at a dinner table, should be talking to each other, are staring down at their screens. Folks sitting at soccer game sidelines, should be watching their kids, are staring down at their phones.”
The ads have begun airing on television, during the World Series and in prime time on the major networks.
One called “Really?” shows scenes of people consumed by their phones instead of living their lives – a bride walking down the aisle texting, a dad staring at his phone while playing catch with his son, a man dropping his phone in a urinal and picking it up.
The company has a long way to catch up with Apple’s iPhone, Google’s Android platform and Research In Motion’s BlackBerry family.
While it was an early leader in mobile phone software in the ’90s, Microsoft has lost that lead, and its share is declining.
Microsoft is trailing in fifth place in the operating system market for these phones, with 7 percent.
Nokia’s market-leading phone software, Symbian, has 40 percent.
Research In Motion, with its BlackBerry, is in second place at 18 percent, and Google Android has grown to 16 percent. Apple iPhone has 15 percent, according to IDC, a research firm in Framingham, Mass.