By Anna Sekula Posted November 15, 2011, 2:00 PM EST
NEW YORK Looks like Burger King wasn't the only brand to build an enormous sculpture in New York last week. To draw attention to the release of new software Windows Phone 7.5, Microsoft constructed a six-story cell phone in Herald Square, bringing music, free food, and performances to the 55-foot-tall multimedia space for a public promotion. The daytime event on November 7 was a tactic from the technology giant designed to carve out a distinct identity for the mobile operating system in a fiercely competitive market, and to underscore the experience of Windows Phone 7.5.
“Windows Phone will help change the way people look at smartphones,” said Andy Lees, president of the Windows Phone division at Microsoft, in a press release. “Other phone have you wade through a sea of apps, while we bubble up all the things that are important—centered around the people that matter to you most.”
That meant showcasing the operating system's tiled-based organization of apps, perhaps the most visual difference between Windows Phone and its competitors. So Microsoft tapped Seattle-based agency Wexley School for Girls to build a space that would house digital and real-life versions of the tiles. The building was divided into rooms that, when not used for a live performance, were covered by video walls. For instance, one level served as the stage for a live performance by music group Far East Movement, representing the platform's music and video hub. On another floor, a man proposed to his girlfriend to bring to life the “me” tile, a button that gives users quick access to post messages to contacts and social media networks.
However, the action wasn't all contained in the oversize device—the brand demonstrated its Xbox Live capabilities with a dance performance designed to mimic the popular video game Plants Vs. Zombies and brought in free pizza from Famous Original Ray's Pizza to show off its Bing search engine functions.
Microsoft is planning to roll out more events in other markets to support new phones loaded with Windows Phone 7.5, including outings in Boston, Philadelphia, and Dallas this week, and Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle over the course of the next month.