Smoked by Windows Phone, PR fail. Ben the PC guy to the rescue.

| March 26, 2012 | 48 Replies



Something bad went down today regarding the Smoked by Windows Phone campaign. If you’re not familiar with that campaign, that was where a Windows Phone would challenge another phone to do a certain task. If that was completed faster than the Windows Phone, you win money/prize. If not, you can get your phone swapped for a Windows Phone.

Ali actually tried this challenge at MWC with a Nokia 808 and beat a WP, subsequently getting money which he used to get a Nokia N9 :).

It’s been working quite well. WP hasn’t been winning all and has been awarding prizes to winners. Most of the time, it has won, because the challenges are set to show off Windows Phone’s strengths. e.g. facebook integration so quick snap of a picture and upload.

That’s really the aim of this campaign (at least how I perceived it) rather than a whiny my phone is better than yours thing.

It’s just for fun. But apparenly Microsoft had got a little carried away, raised the stakes where challengers were a little bit more prepared than normal. One such had disabled the lock screen from appearing on his Android, such that in a test to show weather in two cities, the Android had won.  Let’s not get into whether disabling the lock screen is a normal activity. That’s what the guy had set up. If MS didn’t think of that ahead and prevent in the rules, it’s their own fault. The test in itself was rather silly. I had hoped it would be one of the more realistic tests, real life tests we’ve seen before.

Official Rules:

This is a skill-based Contest. The object of this Contest is for You to come into the Microsoft Store and try to beat the Microsoft Windows Phone in a series of five (5) “Smoked by Windows Phone” challenge scenarios selected by Microsoft at its sole discretion including: (1) Pocket-to-Picture-to-Post, (2) Real-Time Information with Live Tiles, (3) Using the People Hub to Stay in Touch with the People You Care About Most, (4) Updating Your Status Across Multiple Social Networks, and (5) Local Scout (“Challenge”). For purposes of this Contest, each entrant who participates in the Challenge with their own personal smartphone will be called an “entry.” All eligible entries received will be judged using the criteria described below to determine the winners of the prizes described below.

Stupidly, rather than give the prize of a laptop and congratulate the guy, the MS retail staff at the store decided not to award the guy. Oh come on now guys! You’re giving away a Windows laptop. It’s better that it’s out there in the hands of a user than in your store (even if he does go on to sell it, it will be out there eventually in use).

It doesn’t matter if the score sheet isn’t 100% in your favour. It never was. That’s what I liked about it. We could also see where WP could improve. No, not in features it doesn’t actually have as that’s silly.

This could have been so easily swept under the carpet. But no. This blew up across the blogosphere and you know it’s gone bad when it’s on Reddit’s front page!


A win is a win and loss is a loss. Rules should all be clear BEFORE the test to make sure no party backs out or cheats. At the very least, it’s getting people to walk into MS stores or even see a WP phone, which to most people, doesn’t even exist.

A rematch was offered quite late (it should have been at the time if at all) but that has thankfully been dismissed.

Fortunately since the time this was first reported, this has been sorted out.

Ben the PC guy wants to make it right with a laptop, a phone and an apology. Some nice swag, eh? I also read from Reddit that a few people there are purposely coming in with crappy Androids to lose and get a Windows Phone. That is actually a pretty good idea. It’s a win either way and they can go sell the phone if they don’t actually want it (though I hope at least they give it a try).

It’s blunders like this we don’t really want to hear about. So much hard work can be made to build up a campaign or even a brand to be wrecked by something so petty as this.

This could have simply been a ‘I won a Windows laptop!” blog post to which no one would really have cared that much, congrats to the guy. Some folks might have been envious at that HP laptop. Perhaps some might have goaded but it would never have exploded into such a crud storm as this. Either way, it would be an overall positive outcome for all. But no. A mistake happened and one that won’t be forgotten.

I hope this teaches Microsoft to be more careful about overstepping their mark. Consistency is absolutely paramount. Don’t make a campaign bigger than what you can handle.

You can’t just have great results from some challenges (wins and loses doesn’t matter) and then something terrible like this coming out! It sort of reminds me of the Amazing Everyday thing and the inconsistency by those silly promos by Nokia Australia. That of course was not to the same level of ‘zomg they didn’t’ fails, but the point remains the same that good consistent marketing is mandatory.


[Look at this awful video. It’s out of focus. It doesn’t really make sense. And what’s worse is that they kept uploading random out of focus videos again and again!]

Hopefully it also makes MS and Nokia pull their finger out and work faster to continue making WP Lumia a better experience for everyone. At the same time, perhaps they should focus LESS on what other products are doing, focus LESS on giving other phones more air time than they already have and actually just show their devices as being great for doing X, Y, Z etc. Hopefully XYZ will be features they know consumers care about the most and can leave a strong, positive impression upon them that if that’s what they’re looking for, a that Lumia could be something they should go for. The moment you introduce another competitor into the mix, it complicates things.

Just focus on being good.

Ah well. Let’s thing of some positive out of this, I don’t want to leave it on a complete downer.

As Oscar Wilde said, “The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.”. I kind of miss it that our the likes of Stephen Fry doesn’t even mention Nokia any more after his time with the N97. Meh.




Oh looking at that last link again shocks me.

Oh man, I just started reading that and my blood began to boil at how long it was taking them to fix Symbian (and still didn’t by the time the N8 appeared in 2010!). For those of you that accuse me of instantly changing my mind on S60 once WP came out, well no that wasn’t the case. I’ve always been looking out for what Nokia needed and I knew that crud clearly wasn’t it.

This was before we had seen N900, which I had hoped it would be our saviour and it could have been were it not strangled by Nokia themselves in Symbian’s favour. Karma has a way of sadly going back to sort that out to the detriment of us all.



Category: Nokia, Rant, Windows Phone

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