An Apologetic Digital Marketer

Microsoft has experienced a renaissance of late.

They acquired a social network, bought big into the developer community with their acquisition of GitHub, and released a highly-reviewed, well-received series of tablet computers.

Shortly after the tablets launched, they signed a $400 million sponsorship with the NFL (which has since been extended) to be "the official sideline technology sponsor of the NFL".  Players and coaches use Microsoft tablets to review game footage in almost real-time and the officials use them to assess replay reviews and coaches' challenges.

Via The NFL is making Microsoft Surface a winner on and off the sidelines:

Where the NFL brought Surface to the mainstream, Surface modernized football by increasing efficiency for coaches, players, and referees on the sidelines.

There is only one problem.  It's a terrible place to showcase their product.  It's not their users.  It's not a natural environment.  The stakes are high, so the failures are magnified.

The results?

Their product placement has looked like this:

Microsoft Surface tablets ‘fail’ spectacularly during live NFL broadcast

Microsoft Surface irks NFL coaches and stars: 'I'm done with tablets'

Microsoft defends its Surface NFL tablets after the Patriots stop using them

The biggest stars the NFL has to offer, degrading an otherwise great product.

The lesson?

To be great, a good product needs to placed in the right hands.

I know professionals who are thrilled with the Microsoft tablets.  They are thrilled to have a modern form factor that runs the software they need to do their business.

But when you watch the sidelines on Sundays, you wouldn't know that.