NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Follow the YouTube trail.From 2011, a Research in Motion ( RIMM) television commercial promoting the BlackBerry Curve smartphone. I first saw that commercial while watching a hockey game on Canadian television. For as hard as I was hammering RIM at the time, I had to give the company credit. As nothing more than a TV spot, that was a damn good piece of marketing. However, as a TV spot designed to sell BlackBerries, it was nothing short of an embarrassment. You walked away from that 30 seconds with one of two reactions: Where can I get one of those glow-in-the-dark bikes or those fixed gear-riding urban slicks would be iMessaging on Apple ( AAPL) iPhones if that was real. As it attempts to brand its Surface tablet, Microsoft ( MSFT) commits an equally-as-ugly sin. Both RIM and Microsoft attempt to make the uncool appear cool, not through organic channels such as brisk consumer adoption and viral word of mouth, but via manufactured attempts. The Microsoft commercial feels like a summer hijinks movie starring Corey Haim and Corey Feldman. And, the whole schoolgirls thing is just downright creepy.
Both pieces of marketing go after Apple in the consumer space. And, even worse, they do it along the lines of cool. Research in Motion and Microsoft cannot beat Apple in a game of cool. Not in 2011. Not in 2012. Not in 2013. It cannot and absolutely will not happen. RIM should shoot its commercials from the business class section of an airplane focusing on QWERTY's ease of use. And Microsoft should promo its tablet from a boardroom featuring nothing but Office and some corporate suit taking his Surface home at night so his geek teenager can integrate it with xBox. It's not possible for the consumer to follow what RIM and Microsoft tried/try to sell them. It's like trying to sell Depends or Metamucil as hip, vibrant products. No, you sell them on graphic and straightforward explanations of what they can do for very specific types of customers. That's where Google ( GOOG), America's advertising company, finally hit the jackpot with a good advertisement! While TheStreet contributor Anton Wahlman has spent the last month spewing love at Google's new $249 Chromebook, I have directed equal parts "hate" its way. I just can't get with attempts to challenge Apple on price. Microsoft slaps a premium price on a flimsy product. I played with a Surface tablet this past weekend and the weekend before. It feels like a piece of not-all-that-hard plastic. The keyboard clumsily clicks to the touchscreen like frayed pieces of cardboard fit together to form a forest scene in a dusty old puzzle. And while Google competes on price, at least it doesn't attempt to pass Chromebook off as something it's not. The notion of a For Everyone campaign makes perfect sense. You have to hand it to Google. It's not saying, we're cool. It's not trying to feign a product that's as high quality as something from Apple. It just saying, listen, you can beat the heck out of this thing. Give it to your kids. Take it places you wouldn't dare take a MacBook. And you won't lose any sleep because it's only $249. In other words, it's doing something few techs do these days opposite Apple; it's blazing its own trail. I can respect that. You really have to respect that. Finally ... something to respect! That said, Google and Microsoft face uphill climbs almost as steep as RIM's. When people shop this Christmas, they will stop short of buying products with identity crises. Is it a tablet? Is it a laptop? Is it a hybrid? Is it a convertible? Why are they trying to market gadgets using automotive terms? And what the hell is a "convertible" anyway?. Confusing the living snot out of the customer is really not the way to go. Consumers will opt for the straightforward proposition. They know what they're getting with an iPad. And Apple only had to tell them once. When Steve Jobs introduced the thing a few years ago. The marketing merely reinforces what everybody already knows and loves about Apple. Follow @rocco_thestreet