Microsoft officials who phoned reporters Friday said it is indeed a campaign to brand Windows, "the start of a conversation ... easily the largest marketing campaign we've ever had."
The good news (in terms of sanity anyway) is that Microsoft is to copy Apple's Genius Bar initiative, starting with 155 "Microsoft Gurus" to be placed in Best Buy and Circuit City stores to be the public face of Microsoft products, providing expert advice and demonstrating Microsoft products.
$300 million is the figure mentioned for the campaign, a huge budget that used wisely could easily bring Microsoft a renewed level of positive public feeling, and yet instead we get Seinfield, Gates, a cheap shoe store, and Gates wiggling his rear?
I've watched the ad a couple of times now, and I still don't get it. A positioning statement around nothing? Humanizing Bill Gates perhaps? Windows as an irreverent brand that stands for nothing? Windows is like cheap shoes while OS X is Italian leather?
Why not have Gates and Seinfield in a Kia dealership, looking at crappy Korean cars, after all, if this is a "positioning statement" the only message I get is that Bill Gates is a stingy old white guy, and buying Microsoft products is buying cheap...but reliable products as the side message. Was the bonus card scheme referring to the Windows Live Cashback scheme?
I'm not hating on Microsoft for the sake of it, although many others may do so for that reason alone, but at a time Microsoft is creating cool products and doing interesting things, the best we get in an advertising campaign is a shoe shop?
There is one explanation though, and the blame doesn't lay at Microsoft's feet, although they picked these guys; the campaign comes from Crispin Porter & Bogusky, the same outfit that delivered the Ask camapign that included references to the Unabomber and focused on the Algorithm while ignoring the core brand. Sound familiar here?
In case you haven't seen it yet: Bill Gates Jerry Seinfeld Microsoft Ad