Microsoft has launched their response to the iPad—the Surface tablet—along with a special version of their operating system (Windows 8 RT) that runs on an ARM processor. A lot is riding on this project for Microsoft; the previous version of Windows-based tablets never really caught on, and after years of watching Apple sell millions of iPads, Redmond has finally responded with a product they hope will be considered cutting-edge and the new epitome of cool.
So why compare it to a mullet?
Before we even knew what the Surface would look like, I suspected that their angle of attack against the iPad would be that the Apple product was fine if you wanted to play around, consuming content—but if you wanted to work, why then you’d need the Microsoft Office suite. Only Word, Excel, and PowerPoint would do for the serious businessman, right? And now MS has just the thing you’re looking for.
In their recent print ads for Windows 8 and Surface, though, MS wants you to know that this is the tablet for work and play. They mention Netflix, Angry Birds, email, and of course, PowerPoint. Well, nothing wrong with that, of course; tell people you have the popular apps they want (while trying to encourage more developers for the new platform to overcome Apple’s huge base of iPad apps, and don’t mention that this version of the Surface won’t run third party desktop Windows apps). But the tagline they’ve chosen in the ad is a killer:
“It’s business in the front, and party in the back.” Which is how one described a mullet, the infamous hairdo featuring a short cut on the forehead, with cascading waves down the shoulders on the back. It’s a style so divisive and stereotyped that there’s a documentary about it. Now, I’m not here to mock those who rock the mullet—I’m from central Ohio, after all—but when you think bleeding edge, cool, and professional, it’s not the first style choice that comes to mind.
I’m trying to wrap my head around this. Is it possible they didn’t know? That an intern wrote it on the white board while they were spitballing, as a joke, and then was too terrified to say anything when it got included in the ad copy? Or does Microsoft marketing, who gave us Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld, the Laptop Hunters, and the belated and lame “I’m a PC” campaign simply think that these are good ideas?
Apple, of course, recently had an ad misstep with their “Genius” ads: attempting to show how helpful their Apple Store staff could be, it struck most people as portraying Apple users as idiots. Apple removed the ads from the web and went back to their minimalist campaign focusing on the product themselves.