There is a part of the brain that sits just behind the forehead called the prefrontal cortex that is responsible for triggering recollections when musically stimulated. Now, we cannot speak for Microsoft’s marketing team, but we can speculate that the company’s latest ‘hokey’ Jack Johnson-like Surface melody commercials may be attempting to tap into the pre-frontal cortex pipework. It seems that the company may be further doubling down on that concept with its newest co-opted NFL Surface Ad.
The new Microsoft Surface and NFL Clap Your Hands spot is a cleverly crafted ad that puts the son of NFL quarterback Drew Brees at the center of the action as he recites the simple childhood instructional melody of Clap Your Hands against the action-packed backdrop of football training. The one minute and 47-second long clip place the Surface Pro 4 in the hands of several pro athletes as they go about strength training, play calling, drilling on technique, recruiting, and more important communicating with family.
Under the soft-pitched voice of Brees’ son grows a brooding drum and bass melody that is sure to resonate with some music fans, all the while showering viewers (NFL fans in particular) with the various use cases for the Surface Pro 4.
Similar to Apple’s new Watch ad that calls upon the fast-paced piano work and strong vocals of Nina Simone’s Sinnerman in its “Go Time” ad, this new Surface Ad is also attempting to pair music and memory association with a product.
The technique, according to a report from LiveScience, has been something long explored.
What seems to happen is that a piece of familiar music serves as a soundtrack for a mental movie that starts playing in our head. It calls back memories of a particular person or place, and you might all of a sudden see that person's face in your mind's eye." - Petr Janata, a cognitive neuroscientist at the University of California, Davis.
Microsoft’s public marketing of its hardware and software services has been ‘bumpy’ to put it nicely. Indirect and subtle attempts at product placement have been awkward at best and off-putting at worst to some viewers. Often the company’s more direct marketing has fallen victim to fad-catering and sometimes tone-deaf pop culture references or, for some, too aggressive in nature, unabashedly calling out its competitors.
It seems rare that Microsoft successfully toes the line of gracefully educating consumers while providing reference worthy entertainment during a 30-60 second ad. Perhaps revisiting the music memory association technique with a new focus on education and practical use cases will resonate better with audiences than the company’s previous attempts, which included dancing school girls and ear-drum punishing dubstep numbers with little focus on what the product could actually do.
Let us know in the comments how you would compare this new NFL spot to other classic Microsoft advertisements.