Reverse Engineering a Microsoft Windows 7 Commercial – Video

If commercials were jokes, then Microsoft’s Windows 7 PC commercial -which I’m about to show you- would be a 30 seconds long joke with 25 seconds of setup and 5 seconds long punchline.

The “setup” is designed to do two things.

  1. Occupy our rational brain with facts (dogs protect us, extend our lifespan, improve our health, etc.)
  2. Distract our rational brain long enough to allow our emotional brain to get into the “right state of mind”

The right state of mind in this case is to produce warm and fuzzies.

The relative importance of the “feeling” we get while watching the commercial is perfectly illustrated in the time allotted for the emotional setup vs. MS logo visibility (25 seconds/5 seconds).

Learn from marketing experts to see how you can apply the same method to your brand, product or company.

See for yourselves:

If you liked that, you’re gonna love this:

Dino Dogan

Global Force for Badassery | Founder of Triberr | Refugee from Bosnia | Writer for Technorati | Speaker | Lousy Martial Artist | Pretty good singer/songwriter | Hi 🙂

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  • Protelp

    Really enjoyed your video, nice and easy to listen to. Thanks for sharing and will have a good look through your blog!

  • krisolin

    Hey Dino, nice post Mr. Marketing Professor!

    I wasn’t particularly impressed with the casting of the dorky kid here, but anyways…like you said, this kind of ad formula does work!

    Think about the low key production method of this TV ad though. During boom times huge companies (such as MS) spend fortunes on TV ad productions. The technical budgets are huge. But not this one, man! You can do an ad like this with less than $10K. I know because I have done them in the past life. And they work like magic! The key is in the script. The story is the king once again. They saved even with the camera crew here. I’d say there’s just one guy using a steady cam and that’s it, man! Half a day shooting, scan the logo and spend 3 hours in the editing suite. Brilliant!

    Here is a total opposite to this production model. Check this out. It will blow your mind! … and work as an effective TV commercial as well; but with a much bigger budget.



    • dino_dogan

      They can churn out a ton of these using the same formula a la MGD 64 ads. Low budget, high variety and high TV rotation. Not a bad strategy . @krisolin

  • punchakpr

    Great case study Dino! Connecting with emotions is definitely the name of the game. I love the simple way Microsoft has done this. I’ve noticed that their commercials have taken a turn for the better and have lost their “statistician” feel.

    Despite this simple concept, it’s easier said than done. Last year I sat down with a team to work on creating something similar for a project. It was so frustrating! We were over thinking it and ultimately getting in our own way. Maybe a little meditation would’ve helped, eh? 🙂

    • dino_dogan

      I encounter this kind of thing a lot. I find that fundamentally people think they are marketing for themselves. But often, they arent. So they look at things from their perspective and forget the point of it all. @punchakpr

  • RogerHoyt

    Awesome post. I love how you broke it down so easily. You’re right though, it’s not something people think about on a daily basis. Yet another way to brainwash people. Gives me some ideas that Authors can use to market their books.

    • dino_dogan

      sweet 🙂 glad you liked it. Authors should def be aware of these kinds of …shall we call them manipulations? Because we can do it to our readers in order to take them on a journey through storytelling.


  • Chrisina_Loyd

    Awesome stuff as always. My friends and I always make fun of commercials that have no “sticky”. In other words, once the commercial is done, you have no idea what it was for. Turns out, “sticky” is not that important. Great point. Thanks Dino.

    • dino_dogan

      thnx Chris. Human head stores its long term memory in the middle area of the brain, aka the Emotional Brain. The rational brain tries to recall the facts and figures, but the emotional brain just wants to feel good. And if we’re trained to feel good when seeing a Microsoft logo then we are more likely to rationalize our purchase.

      So subtle, and so tricky 🙂 @Chrisina_Loyd

  • StartYourNovel

    I kept looking at the wife, though. (So I guess there’s a little something for everyone.)

    I agree, this could have been a commercial for almost anything. It plays up family values, stability, but also, in a stealthy way, it shows you how technology isn’t just easy to use, but it also blends seamlessly into your life. They show you an 11-year-old that put together a relatively sophisticated Powerpoint presentation that includes infographics and motion video.

    Of course, the punchline demonstrates that there’s a limit to the persuasive power of technology — the message matters, too. The husband’s attempt to persuade his wife is shot down in a nanosecond because she can see straight away that there’s no family-related benefit.

    The fact that the husband comes to the wife for approval implies a couple of things:
    a) this commercial is aimed at families, rather than individuals
        – aa) a subset of that strategy is to show that the wife wears the pants in this situation
        – aaa) the husband is demoted to the kid’s authority level, i.e., he has none

    b) the commercial flatters feminine, motherly wisdom, thereby implying that women/mothers have more authority than technology (and they do). That alone is brilliant.

    Once again, this is Microsoft presenting itself as a safe, understandable, Middle-America alternative to the exotic operating systems out there. Not a bad move.

    Their 2012 motto could well be 
    “Microsoft: Computers for the Unadventurous.”


    “Stay safe. Stick with us.”

    (And I’m a Windows user, mind you. I’m well aware that Windows is not the best or most exciting platform.)

    • Dino Dogan

      Cogent analysis, my friend.  

  • SecurityResearch

    One stat you forgot to add. The over 50% of the length of your video devoted to showing the Microsoft commercial. Seen more of that commercial watching your 6.5 min video than I will the rest of this year.

    • Dino Dogan

      HA! You’re right 🙂

      They really should sponsor my diatribe for crying out loud lol