Photo: Caleb Slain / Facebook
Surface, Microsoft’s iPad competitor, will be available for sale in October and a lot is riding on it: The company needs a hit product to ensure Windows 8 doesn’t get left further behind Android and iOS in the mobile operating system wars.Usually, when Microsoft plans a big launch it hands the ad duties to one of its major agency partners: Crispin Porter & Bogusky, Deutsch or Razorfish. Combined, the three agencies do most of the creative work on Microsoft’s $1.9 billion ad account.
But not for Surface.
The first online promo video for the product was made by 22-year-old Caleb Slain, a relative unknown in the ad world. “I’ve had no direct contact within the agencies at all,” he told us.
“Ours was originally supposed to be a product showcase by myself and Keith Rivers [of Seattle-based Keith Rivers Films].” Such videos aren’t supposed to go viral, they’re intended just to show people in the trade how the product looks.
But Slain and Rivers decided to take the project in a different direction—they made a sleek, brutalist film with live mercury, shot with minimal colour. “We just wanted to make the most awesome, badass video possible, so that when we gave it back to Microsoft they would either love it or we would never work for them again.”
Rivers previously did the “A more beautiful web” video for Internet Explorer, in March, which features Alex Clare’s dub-steppy song “Too Close.”
The project manager at the client was Janelle Poole, director of PR, Slain said.
The gambit paid off: The video has gotten 6.3 million views since it was published in June:
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