Microsoft Surface Ad

Published on December 2nd, 2014 by jrodman. Filed under Advertising, New Technology


Without any human subjects or dialogue, this 2012 advertisement for Microsoft’s Surface tablet consists almost entirely of shots of the product from a variety of positions, set to electronic background music.  Yet, despite the lack of an overtly exciting premise, the ad is surprisingly successful at capturing the attention of the viewer through the use of rhythm-enhancing editing and non-diegetic montage.

A key feature of the ad is the way in which the visual editing matches the erratic but intense accompanying rhythm.  The majority of shots last less then one second, and are separated by abrupt cuts which occur on the beat.  In addition, certain movements are deliberately timed with the background music, such as the tablet ‘clicking’ into the keyboard at 0:20.  Though the extent to which these techniques convey a strong sense of rhythm may perhaps be undermined by the beat’s lack of continuity, the quick and sporadic cuts likely increase overall viewer arousal, particularly among a younger, more technologically savvy customer base.

The ad also includes a good deal of peculiar non-diegetic montage – instances in which shots of the product are intermittently cut with seemingly unrelated images that cause the viewer to draw conceptual associations between the two.  Although the images in the ad seem unusual and obscure, it is plausible to derive reasonable analogies from them that help improve viewer perception of the product (for instance, the image of a sharp tool smashing a piece of rock could be meant to emphasize the  ‘groundbreaking’ nature of the new tablet).  Nonetheless, even for viewers who do not comprehend the subtle analogies being implied by the images (if any), utilizing bizarre and abstruse montage is known to increase viewer recall.  As such, the ad not only effectively engages the viewer’s attention but also retains it.



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