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Microsoft says Seinfield, Gates ad a winner


Microsoft has responded to criticism of its Jerry Seinfield Bill Gates advertising campaign by saying that the ad is a winner, telling the Wall Street Journal “It’s exactly what we were trying to achieve, which was to drive buzz.”

Other experts are supporting the campaign:

“The initial reaction might be on the fence or leaning negative but the ad did its job,” says Dean Crutchfield, a brand consultant. “Most companies would have to spend a billion dollars on advertising to get this kind of attention.”

“The fact that they have the blogs, the business community and mass media talking about it means they hit a nerve,” says Allen Adamson, managing director of the New York office of Landor Associates, a corporate branding firm owned by WPP Group.

Now if this wasn’t a Microsoft commercial I’d agree with all those points: people are talking about the ad, it has created buzz, and the idea that there is no such thing as bad publicity holds true. But we’re not talking about another company, we’re talking about Microsoft. A multi-billion dollar organization with 80-90% marketshare on computers, the default standard in office software, and a range of other things. You can’t go anywhere on the planet without running into something from Microsoft, and very few have never heard of the company, going to zero percent in the developed world.

This isn’t a company that needs buzz, that needs people talking about a zany ad that says nothing. Microsoft has brand awareness. What Microsoft needs to do is change people’s perception of the brand, to make people think positively about the company, and this ad fails to deliver.

Where was the key message? where was any message for that matter? Do people think more positively about Microsoft after the ad because Jerry Seinfield and Bill Gates like cheap shoes?

It is, as I’ve said previously, too clever by half. The fact that the Journal’s experts think that the ad is a huge hit proves the point, because there are times where the ad world has lost touch with reality. This ad resonates for all the wrong reasons, and the buzz doesn’t address the key messages Microsoft needs to deliver.

Will it yet deliver in follow up spots? Microsoft is betting that it is, and until we see the ads, we have no way of knowing. On the bright side, the campaign can only improve, but perhaps that’s the point I’m missing: perhaps it is suppose to start bad so that we see a transformation of Microsoft from the cheap shoes of Windows to something cooler and more desirable. We will see.

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6 Responses to “Microsoft says Seinfield, Gates ad a winner”

  1. grum

    In my eyes, the ad was great and did what it needed to do.

    When you’re stuck in Microsoft’s position, no advertisement is going to sell a product in a positive light that will be accepted by all. They are destined to forever receive criticism. So screw selling the product. Fix the brand.

    Yes, Microsoft does have huge brand recognition however a lot of it still has the stench of a negative user experience.

    The recent Seinfeld/Gates ad only has one message – “Hey, this is Microsoft – we don’t take ourselves too seriously. So just give us a break, k?”

    Its just the 1st step towards the bigger picture.

  2. dukeoconnor

    My first reaction was that Gates and Seinfeld look old and tired. OK, they're trying to project authenticity. Then I was bothered by the toned down Seinfeld character. A couple of minutes later, though, I saw the real Seinfeld in an American Express commercial. Loved it. I wouldn't be surprised if they let Seinfeld be himself later on in the campaign. Their agency has done some very nice work in the past, but also some of the very worst work I've ever seen. That's the risk you run by trying to push the envelope.

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