Microsoft Bing TV ad blames global economy collapse on search engines, makes no effort to explain Bing: WTF

I have a neutral perspective on Bing, but I found this difficult to watch. Readers of LiveSide noticed the $80million advertising campaign for Microsoft’s new search decision engine has been published to Microsoft PressPass, and if nothing else it proves money doesn’t buy you anything these days.

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The first thirty seconds of the ad is like an art student’s first thriller movie. There’s references to popular internet memes, the financial crisis, government bailouts, flashing words, the stock market, the housing market, national debt, fuel prices and bankruptcy. Then comes the flashing visuals of a bald man acting unnaturally and another man attached with many sensors on his head showing a mild case of insanity, some guys in metallic suits fighting, a human head bulging, explosions and another man attached to a device straight out of Total Recall. If you’ve not already switched off the video, the heart pounding visuals come to a rest with a guy dropping his suitcase in slow motion. Classy.

For the final 30-seconds home run, it’s a little more upbeat. Cue colorful and lively stock imagery. “Starting today, we need the right information to make the right decisions. Decisions to make us feel right, decisions that help us get to the right place, at the right time, even if it’s right around the corner. And we need to make decisions about what the right stuff is. Right now, it’s time for the one and only 100% engineered to cut through the crap decision engine. Ladies and gentleman, boys and girls, it’s time to Bing and decide.”

And the thrill ride of W.T.F. comes to an end. The advertising agency says thanks for the bailout.

Update: A little more of my opinion if anyone’s interested, I get the “point” of the first 30 seconds – it’s to show me that there’s a lot of nonsense on the net and traditional search engines fail at finding “answers”, but I’m baffled at the visuals and story it conveys. I think there are less intimidating ways at delivering the same message.

The second 30 seconds of the ad does better at telling a story, but it feels like a story missing a few paragraphs. I’m told about decisions and the need to make the right decisions, but there’s no evidence Bing helps with making decisions, except being told it is a “decision engine”.

Update 2: Bing’s second and third ad appeals to me a lot more and seems to deliver more compelling reasons to stay away from traditional search engines. I understand they’re heavily constrained by time, but I think it would better if they spend a few seconds mentioning the benefits of Bing instead of leaving viewers with just a logo.

40 insightful thoughts

  1. Personally I think its quite obvious what they’re saying 🙂 (oh and my wife agrees!)

    There is confusion (those scattered images) in search until “Today” on, which is when the imagery slows down and becomes ‘organised’.

  2. OK, since they mentioned bailouts, let’s search “bailout”:
    Ten blue links.

    “chocolate rain”?
    Ten blue links… OK, and then four of the oh-so-cool live video previews. But couldn’t that have gone on top? Google gets it right.

    I like a lot of things about Bing. But it just doesn’t seem revolutionary enough to justify this hype. Remember “the wow is now”? I really like Vista, too, but they made it out to be such a massive revolution. :-\

  3. I don’t know about you but I was pretty clear using “traditional” search engines before “today”. And even so, I think there are better ways and less creepy ways at explaining “confusion” and “disorder”. :/

  4. I think it’s fair to say this video exaggerates somewhat.

    I didn’t feel like the world was falling apart when I Google’d, nor do I feel like its all parties and glee now I’m Binging.

    Add to that the disappointment that we in the UK don’t get the full features…

  5. Cheerful pictures of the future is Microsoft’s thing when it comes to promotional stuff. To be honest, it annoys me greatly.

  6. The ad is an exaggeration, yeah, but so is calling it ‘repulsive’. It’s not the greatest of ads, but it’s not that horrible either.

  7. @Fred: Well I feel very uncomfortable watching the first part of the ad.

  8. I also don’t understand why you found this commercial repulsive.

    Sure, it isn’t as creative as say the Mac vs. PC commercials, but it does get the message across, even if it’s a bit long-winded.

    I wish Microsoft would be more concrete instead of abstract in the commercials though, although I’m sure with an $100 million ad campaign, there are bound to be other follow up commercials.

    All in all, not bad for a first ad to set the stage for the public I suppose.

  9. I don’t give a f…. about this stupid ad. All i know that google give’s me better search results than bing. Bing is nice and fresh with some cool options like picture search but google is my homepage and it’s going to stay for a long time.

  10. I completely agree with you Long, this ad is really vile.
    What’s with all the generic stock imagery? Some which seems to come from the early 90s judging by the fashion.
    I felt disturbed by watching the first bit and then sickened by the cheesey ending. Very amateurish by modern advertising standards

  11. “Right now, it’s time for the one and only 100% engineered to cut through the crap decision engine. ”
    hmm….i don’t think they said the word “crap” lol

  12. Well, I have to completely disagree. I would never predict someone would have your reaction to this ad. Your response seems rather bizarre, IMO.

  13. @RC: Well you could say I had high expectations for $80million. 🙂

    Whats your reaction / opinion of the ad?

  14. I don’t expect anything for $80 million. Seems MS (probably other companies too) are always throwing that kind of money away on ads. Who the hell even pays attention to ads?

    If i was them, i’d go with the message “MS’s new search engine: Bing. Open now.” and spend maybe a few hundred dollars on it. $80 could have hired more people to do important work at MS.

  15. I’m rather indifferent. I just think it’s one of those “big picture” type ads trying position Bing as a way to approach the world that’s new and interesting and compelling….and I don’t really respond to ads like that so it’s not that interesting to me.

    I tend to like MS ads for different reasons. I was one of those people who “got” the Seinfeld ads. I was completely shocked that people didn’t understand what they were for….not like them, just understand them. I also liked that one that had Gates McFadden in it as the business lady, as I liked Dr. Crusher growing up. 🙂

  16. What’s wrong with that ad? It’s very clear and a good ad. I like it.

  17. I think Microsoft has finally given some thought to a new product rather copying 99% of the what their competition is already doing much better.

    If anything this means competition and can only be good for us end users.

    Yes, the results are not as good as Google but perhaps overtime they might get it right. Then of course I don’t think Google will be asleep either.

    SDWolf: well, as much as it hurts me to say this but Fox might have a point… try the word “Porn” in the video search. They may as well call it a porn video search.

  18. I dont really see, Long, why you made a big deal of the ad? I dont find it confusing. I think its a decent ad.

  19. I am neutral on Bing and have not even used it. Going back 10 years I thought why would you use google, when yahoo is so good, and then I used google and have never been on a yahoo site since. So far all I hear about Bing is from techies, and we know how to search, we know what keywords get better results, we know how to filter results. I guess the real test will be when our daughters, mothers, the painter painting the fence next door go to use it. remember they are users too and they don’t understand that if you put a – in front of monica you can find out what else Bill did in the white house. As for the Ad my creative side gets what they are saying and if I take my techie hat off it makes sense. The real ad power is in the name Bing. It is so tangible, mysterious and exciting, well, compared to live search. I can hear real people (as opposed to use techies) saying oh no don’t use google bing it, then you get blah blah blah displayed down the side bits. So to me the Ad is fine but I am a meat and patatoes guy, I don’t want parsley in the way of real food, I want to just see the facts, show me what it can do better then the others and how and bang I am binging.

  20. @Steve, Google changed the game when they came on the scene because their search results were vastly superior to anything other companies showed.

    I remember seeing the google founders presentation about an alternative search algorithm way back in 1998 during W3C in Brisbane. Everyone’s thought was huh? Why compete in a market which is already saturated and essentially controlled by Altavista (keyword based searching), Yahoo (index based browsing) and inktome (enterprise level search).

    When Google was finally launched it really didn’t take long for people to switch mainly because it gave them what they were looking for in a very easy way.

    What Bing is trying to achieve is layer categorization and semantic interpretation over the top of search results. This is nothing new. A number of companies have tried doing this for Intranet level search with varying success for quite some time. BTW, Intranet search is an area where Microsoft’s products suck royally and the Google search appliance is truly the King of the Hill.

    I still think this new competition (regardless of Microsoft being successful or not) can only be a good thing for the end user.

  21. So first MSN became Live, but now Bing is live, i man Live is Bing, I mean MSN changed to Bing, which is now live…

  22. i laughed to your reaction to the ad. it shows that you are totally out of touch on what ads people are exposed every day. in this case against the laptop hunters and the rookies ads come down to the actual agencies behind them. this Ad has tattooed JWT style in it in the same way the others have C.P + B style in them.

    i would not think much of this ads since it is just the opening ad for a campaign that is meant to have around 30 video ads in the next 1000 days. this ad in particular is meant to be just the way it is and choosing JWT was a safe choice that i think was the right one in this particular case when you need to attack conventions and concepts instead of other brands and competitors that is the why you hire C.P. + B

  23. well. the other two new ads already prove my point as they are a riot….because they already provide context with the opening ad..

  24. Ok, I’m a bit late to this, but I’m completely at a loss to understand the drama quenn reaction to these ads.




    It just seems like a piss poor attempt at trying to come up with a “deep” critique, and instead sounding like a pretentious amateur. The responses that echo this sentiment are just parroting morons.

    Did you even proofread your post and then ask yourself “does this seem a bit over the top?”.

    Seriously, if you want to critique advertisments, and not sound like a idiot, go to Advertising Age on the web and read how professionals do it.

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