Microsoft's TV campaign for Surface devices expected to commence Monday night

Microsoft's TV campaign for Surface devices expected to commence Monday night

Summary: It sounds like it's time for Microsoft to finally start sharing more information, beginning with TV ads and a new official Surface blog, about its coming tablets and PCs.


Microsoft is expected to begin airing the first of its TV ads for Microsoft Surface on October 15, possibly during Monday Night Football and "Dancing with the Stars."

Windows Supersite Editor Paul Thurrott tweeted about the alleged timing of the ads, based on information from unnamed sources, on October 15. Thurrott also tweeted that he's been told that Microsoft is spending $400 million on its Surface ad campaign -- plus whatever it's spending on its Windows 8 ad campaign. Microsoft kicked off its U.S. TV commercials for Windows 8 on October 14 in the U.S.

While Crispin Porter + Bogusky is the ad agency behind the Windows 8 ads, they are not believed to be the ones behind the Surface campaign. Microsoft used a Seattle-based duo to create the initial promotional short film about the Surface.

I asked Microsoft for comment and didn't hear back.

Update: I received a no comment from a spokesperson about anything and everything to do with any alleged Surface ads.

Update No. 2: The first of the new Surface ads aired as expected on October 15:  

Whatever happens on the ad front, it looks as if a new official Surface blog is set to launch soon. The Microsoft Surface Twitter account posted its first tweet this past weekend. 

Microsoft has yet to advertise its coming Surface PC/tablet devices other than via some display ads in various cities in the U.S. and elsewhere. Here's a picture I snapped this weekend of the Surface ad in Times Square that is right above the Microsoft Times Square holiday pop-up store that is under construction:


The ARM-based Surface RT devices are due to go on sale starting on October 26, which is the same day that Windows 8 and Windows RT PCs and tablets from Microsoft OEMs also will go on sale at retail. The Intel-based Surface Pro device will go on sale approximately three months later, Microsoft execs have said.

Microsoft also has yet to open up about Surface pricing or make the devices available through pre-order. The Softies have said repeatedly that the Surface devices will be sold through Microsoft's brick-and-mortar stores, its 34 holiday pop-up stores which open on October 26 and via "select Microsoft online" stores.

The Surface devices are Microsoft's first foray into selling its own Microsoft-designed and -branded PCs/tablets. Microsoft officials have been playing up Surface's differentiators from existing Windows tablets and devices. Among those differentiators are the choice of different colored touch keyboards and type keyboards that "click in" and act as a cover for the Surface devices. ("Click in" is the tagline on Microsoft's graffitti ads for the devices.)

Microsoft is really is focusing on the keyboard as what enables the Surface to work equally well for consumption and creation. Another shot from the still-under-construction Times Square site shows a huge Surface keyboard hanging on a transparent plastic sheet in the entrance:


Microsoft still hasn't allowed any independent reviewers to have any quality hands-on time with the Surface RT. Hopefully that will happen soon, as no one has yet written about the experience of typing on these keyboards in a non-simulated setting, the performance of the Windows RT operating system on the devices, real-world battery performance -- or anything that would allow potential buyers to realistically evalute the coming devices.

Here's the only spec sheet we have from Microsoft for the Surface RT and Surface Pro devices. The Surface RT will be available in 32/64 GB options and -- as far as we know -- will be Wifi only devices. Surface RT devices, like all Windows RT PCs and tablets, work exclusively with keyboards, mice and other peripherals certified for the new operating system. 

Microsoft's advertising and retail strategies are going to be inordinately important for the Surface, given Microsoft's tiny current tablet share and its decision to compete against its own OEMs for the first time in this space. As I've blogged before, the company's challenge is to prove it has a premium product worth a premium price, if it decides, as expected, to use something other than price as its primary competitive weapon.


Topics: Windows, Microsoft, Tablets, PCs


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Microsoft Kin, part 2

    If more than a thousand of these units sell worldwide, I'll be shocked.
    • Prepare to be amazed...

      While I think the Surface RT will find moderate success, if the Surface Pro has the speculated specs and a decent price point it will sell like hotcakes.
    • How is there any comparison to Kin?

      These trolls are just awful. Kin ran a proprietary OS and was a cheap overpriced feature phone that required a smartphone data plan.

      We have no idea how much Surface costs, but it runs Windows and it seems to be extremely high quality so if the price is reasonable with a $400 million ad campaign it should sell really well. The Surface video/ad on Youtube has almost 8 million views suggesting high level of interest. Also the Facebook page just launched today and it's blowing up with likes.

      Comparison to Kin is dumb. The Courier would have been akin to another Kin or Zune, but Surface is part of the Windows ecosystem so there is much more interest.
      • Trolling = Fear

        "These trolls are just awful."
        Not really. The fact alone that they're trolling so much proves that they're very much afraid of Surface becoming a success. Now, if even MS-antifans believe that those devices will be very successful in the market, then we have all reasons to assume the same.

        So, I'd rather look at that from the positive side. Also, feeding the trolls obviously just allows them to grow larger, so on the other side I'd refrain from that.
    • Thank you jasonp, I admire your courage

      Thank you for putting a number on failure. Failure will be selling fewer than 1,000 units. If MS sells more than 1,000 units, MS Surface will not be a failure.

      I wish more of your peers would be willing to put real numbers on what failure is instead of waiting for the sales figures (say 10,000,000 units) and saying "That is a failure because they sold fewer than 11,000,000 units".

      The bar has been set folks. It has been set at 1,000 units sold. Anything more is a success.

      Once again, thanks jasonp.
      • Success.

        Here's my bar, Toddy: 73,592,916 units the first month. Anything less is a fail.
        • Thanks userama, I admire your willingness to use real numbers

          I agree, if that is the bar we are setting for success or failure in the tablet market, there isn't a single tablet maker in the entire world that has released a successful tablet. That includes MS. And Apple. iPad is an epic fail (if we use the bar you set).
          • And at the other end.....

            There has probably never been a tablet released that has sold less than 1,000 units, so more than 1,000 could hardly be considered a success, could it?
          • Take that up with jasonp

            I wasn't the one who set the bar at 1,000. If you have a problem with that number, you should reply to his comment, not mine.

            Let me know how it turns out.
      • Failure? Shocked.

        He said he'd be shocked. Are you attributing some guru capacity to him that his shock value is indicative of the market condition?
    • There will be more than 1000 sold before they go on sale. Thats how

      preorders work.
      Johnny Vegas
    • What say we come back on this in the new year?

      On january 1 2013, let's see if you are right, jasonp@...
      Ian Easson
  • Microsoft's TV campaign for Surface devices expected to commence Monday

    I must find a way to record this ad and repost it. We need to get the word out there about Microsoft Surface. I will point them to that commercial and say look how they are using it and how comfortable they are with doing tasks in it. I'm prepared.
    Loverock Davidson-
    • So your adding to the tablet hype

      When you prev said tablets was a fad.. Interesting.
      Anthony E
      • Surface isn't really a tablet

        but more like a thinner laptop. So yes, tablets are still a fad but I like to see Microsoft cashing in on it anyway while its still got some buzz.
        Loverock Davidson-
    • "Find a way to record this ad and repost it. We need to get the word out.."

      Agreed. If Microsoft is only spending $400 million on its Surface ad campaign, they obviously need all the help they can get...
      • I'm willing to help

        I'll help them get the word out there about Microsoft Surface.
        Loverock Davidson-
  • Something doesn't add up with the numbers

    Ballmer says microsoft wants to sell "a few million" surface tablets next year, but rumors are a $400 million dollar ad campaign?

    If the advertising budget is true, then either microsoft is going to spend ~$100 per tablet on advertising or microsoft is planning on selling a lot of more of these tablets than they are letting on.
    • Interesting math. But you must consider one "other point".

      By it's very nature, an ad for any Surface Tablet is ALSO an ad for Windows 8. (I understand that MJF went to great pains in her blog to separate the two ad campaigns.

      However, saying the ad budget for Surface Tablets are exclusively being spent to promote only the hardware is naive at best.

      Personally, I believe that in the first year alone, baring any supply chain hiccups, Microsoft will sell more Surface Tablets in one year than Samsung has sold Android based tablets during the past three years.

      I can't help but predict a big success for Microsoft in the tablet market.

      It will be interesting to see if Surface RT tablets outsell the iPad Mini during the Holiday Shopping season. And I'm not even going to suggest an opinion as to which product will generate more sales. I have no clue on that score.
      • I'll make that prediction

        "It will be interesting to see if Surface RT tablets outsell the iPad Mini during the Holiday Shopping season."

        iPad Mini will dominate Surface RT sales. I never ever bet against Apple. There are too many people who will buy Nothing But Apple. doh123 is a great example of that.

        I predict that Surface will not be an "out of the gate" success on the level that the iPad is today. The best MS could realistically hope for is that Surface sales ramp up at the same rate that iPad sales have ramped up since Apple released the first iPad. More realistically, I think MS will build Surface V1.0 in small quantities and success will be selling all of their stock.