The Worst Thing About Microsoft's Surface Pro 3 Ad


Leave it to Redmond to out-awful even the most ear-wormy holiday songs in the windless sea of crazy-making Noel dreck we are forced to navigate at this time of year. Microsoft's "Winter Wonderland"-inspired spot for the Surface Pro 3 , now airing at the break for every single show on every single channel offered by every single cable provider, is like the depressing auto-loop pub fixture "Wonderful Christmastime," only with the added insult of base mercantilism and no easy access to egg nog.

Nobody likes the Surface Pro 3 ad, not even its creators. It's just awful from start to finish. Begin with the butchering of a holiday classic with lyrics celebrating a USB port. Progress through the unironic presentation of an ugly Café Press DIY dog mug as a somehow appropriate and festive gift that anybody would consider giving anyone else ever. Crescendo with the hopeless and embarrassing forfeiture of independent will represented by the sad-sack lead vocalist's conversion to Team Surface.

If Microsoft's intent was to troll holiday happiness, it has achieved unparalleled success. Pre-heart enlargement Grinch-level success.

But there's more. Most of us simply turn off our brains as best we can when the "Winter Wonderland" Surface Pro 3 ad comes on for the umpteenth time during an NFL game. Me, I decided to actually listen to it closely over the weekend.

And I discovered something astonishing, something you will not be able to un-hear once I reveal it.

Microsoft was too cheap to hire more than one male singer! No, seriously. The Surface Pro 3 song has a basic call-and-response structure, where the lead voice —the one that sounds like an even sadder Ray Romano—issues a statement, then gets a reply from a larger chorus of voices.

Only the chorus has a very distinctive voice within it, which is that of the original, primary male vocalist.

It's really quite bizarre when you think about it, which I have now done far more than is healthy. But I can't stop wondering what the point of this was, what Microsoft's message is here. Because the entire dynamic of this song is that you've got this miserable, passive-aggressive schmuck who transparently betrays his utter lack of confidence in his own tablet purchase ... and then joins in throatily with the very mob heaping know-it-all disdain upon his exposed inadequacy.

In fact, it's almost brilliant, if it was intentional. Is Microsoft selling the Surface Pro 3 with an elaborate deconstruction of the outward certainty we wear, like masks, in our consumer culture? Here we have a man who is so undone by the challenge of selecting between two tablets which are objectively closer in kind than different from each other, that he is driven to the brink of madness, launching into a manic monologue with himself that simultaneously expresses deep self-loathing and cocksuredness, all while descending into an unhinged obsession over kickstands.

It's like advertising by Kafka.

Anyway, I think I like my/your/our/their Surface Pro 3. Or not. Or something. And is it okay to re-gift an ugly dog mug?

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