Backchannel Story on the Zune Ad Spoof

The Zune advertising campaign and their “Welcome to the Social” tagline was just asking to be spoofed. I wanted to point out all of the painfully obvious messaging that their ads were trying to say to its target audience. The ads feature twenty-somethings and teen guys and girls hanging out, listening to their Zunes, or just showing some sort of passion for music. The inclusion of guys and girls is important becuase part of the way Microsoft wanted the Zune to be different than the iPod by touting it as a more social music player becuase you can share music with another Zune wirelessly, as if this feature could get you talking to someone of the opposite sex. Steve Jobs so eloquently bashed this feature by saying “You’re much better off to take one of your earbuds out and put it in her ear.” The Zune marketing seems to show the passion for music is what people can share an affinity with, not the technology. Yet this feature attempts to create a bridge to another person with technology. The worst part of this sharing feature is that the files you share get erased after 3 days or 3 plays.

The Inspiration
weird Zune error message The inspiration for the spoof was provided by BoingBoing posting a screen shot of a failed Zune install.
I wanted to show people being really social, maybe a makeout party or something that I could put some Zune ad styled text to. I headed over to page, set it to Creative Commons and looked for the tag “makeout,”in the same set I came across a great pick of a bunch of people laying on a bed; some looking full of angst; others looking apathetic.
Zune ad spoof The jabs I take at the Zune are both at its marketing message that tries to hard to say they are the social portable media player, and at the DRM that cripples music that you share and violates the Creative Commons license that is placed on some music.

The Irony (or It’s a Small World)
I put the spoof ad together in Illustrator, uploaded it to Flickr, and then posted it in the comments of the weird error message screenshot post.
Next, it was picked up by BoingBoing along with another Zune ad spoof and to my surprise, it had a couple hundred views already that morning. As the story started to pick up, I learned these peeps are part of the Yahtzee Posse, a group of friends/street gang/bowling team from Seattle. It turns out that one of the members of the Yahtzee Posse that was not pictured is Matt Hickey, who, by a strange coincident writes for CrunchGear, a blog that reviews gadgets. Matt received some Zunes from Microsoft’s marketing so he can write about them in CrunchGear. They wrote about the coincidence here. I was worried that by using the photo I might have ruined a Microsoft endorsement of the Yahtzee Posse, but no such thing existed. Matt tells me the Zunes he was given crashed a lot, and he is now tired of writing about them.

The Lessons Learned
Who knows, maybe the Zune will be a success. In the mean time, I must admit, it is quite fun to make fun of Microsoft and its “iPod Killer.” None of this would have happened if it were not for Flickr allowing users to license work under Creative Commons (however I did ping the owner of the origninal photo). Being a follower of new marketing and branding, it is quite remarkable how so many people thought the spoof was funny. People had a connection to it, becuase they care about how marketing message are delivered to them, and becuase they passionately are against DRM. The way I and many others have responded to Microsoft’s marketing and DRM says something that Microsoft should pay attention to.

Check out the buzz on the spoof here and my other Zune spoof ads that comment on Universal Music Groups extorting of Microsoft and a jab at the RIAA and their bloodthirsty lawsuits both using the “Welcome to the ____” meme.

Update:
More Zune ad weirdness.

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3 Responses to Backchannel Story on the Zune Ad Spoof

  1. Pingback: n.sputnik » Blog Archive » My Zune ad spoof got BoingBoinged!

  2. Pingback: Microsoft ZUNE: “welcome to the orgy” « Antwerp Calling

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