You made me laugh, Cortana – by @AdamTaylorSmith

Adam Taylor-Smith

By Adam Taylor-Smith


SCA teaches you how to spot and appreciate great work. You quickly learn what greatness looks and sounds like. The difficulty is, the process of learning how to actually make great work inevitably takes a lot, lot longer. 


There’s a gap between what I know to be good and what I’m currently able to produce. Although I’m sure the gap is gradually getting smaller, it’s a bit of a frustrating place to be sat. 


I think that’s why I’ve started to slightly enjoy seeing a really bad advert. I don’t go out of my way to look for them, and truthfully I’d rather they didn’t exist, but I sort of love to hate them. It also helps to balance things out and understand what not to do. 


Take the current Microsoft Cortana advert for example. Twitter has been buzzing with hatred for it. 

If you haven’t seen it, it involves the members of the band Clean Bandit sitting on a sofa and talking to Cortana (the intelligent personal assistant on Windows devices) as if she was their mate. 


It’s bad enough that they seem to be suggesting that socialising with a computer is an entirely natural thing to do. But then one of them goes and takes it a step further by suggestively raising his eyebrow and asking Cortana what she’s wearing. It’s fascinatingly awkward to watch.


You might have seen Spike Jonze’s film Her – it’s a sensitive character study of a man who falls in love with his computer operating system. It’s everything this Clean Bandit guy named Neil flirting with a Microsoft algorithm isn’t. 


I don’t know who this advert is for. I think they forgot to do any persona work. Even the band’s fans have found it so spine-squirmingly irritating that they’ve been publicly promising to rip up their gig tickets if they see it again. 


Anyway, I think the point I was trying to make was that bad advertising helps you appreciate good advertising. I should probably stop criticising and get back to the job of making sure my own book doesn’t have CD’s squirming with the same level of embarrassment. 

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