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Windows Phones & the Law of Relative Popularity

Jasper Roberts

Paid product placements are on the upswing. Window’s Phones and Bing are everywhere but in reality. There is no surer indicator of a creative work with a corporate sponsor than the presence of a Lumia or someone “binging it”, it’s the least coy marketing method we have ever seen, and I’m growing tired of it. At least with the viral video approach I am interested in trying to pick out who has sponsored the video. With Bing it’s like entering the twilight zone.

Cool is still king and there isn’t anything less cool than someone flashing their phone towards the camera or a not so deftly placed Bing tab in focus. As soon as the placement is consciously acknowledged by the audience any cache of cool is gone. At a certain point, companies have to realise that not everyone uses their products. You can’t litter fictional worlds with Lumias and expect this ideal to be mirrored by reality.

Here is a freebie, I call it: the Law of Relative Popularity. It refers to the fact that you can’t increase the expected popularity of a product within a work of fiction beyond two standard deviations from its popularity within reality’s general population. Microsoft breaks this law repeatedly!

House of Lies contains the most blatant breaches of this law. Even ignoring the fact that everyone chooses to have Bing as their homepage, the Lynx level misogyny on display in the show is ridiculous. We go from a woman performing a hand job to a Lumia taking up the entire frame. The message is clear, keep a Lumia at hand and women will keep your member in theirs.

It all just rings so hollow: an infomercial done wrong, and it doesn’t have to be. In a world where the Lego movie exists – and is good –  Microsoft’s product placement appears lazy and ineffective in comparison.


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