Friday, September 12, 2008

Microsoft’s Seinfeld-Gates Ads

Daniel Jalkut:

The prevailing thoughts on the internet seem to be that these ads are ridiculous, that they make no salient point, that they are barely funny, and that they are a pathetic, misguided attempt by Microsoft to rekindle affection from a public that has grown quite accustomed to viewing the company as a stodgy old curmudgeon.

I think these ads are genius. Or if not genius, as close to genius as Microsoft could ever dream of coming. If I was one of Microsoft’s competitors, I might not be quivering in my boots quite yet, but I’d be thinking, “my god, I am wearing boots!”

I think “genius” is a bit much—but, then, Apple also throws the word around lightly. However, I agree that the ads are much better than the Internet reaction would lead you to believe. And I say this as someone who doesn’t find Jerry Seinfeld very funny. Apple’s own ads portray Mac users as smug. The Microsoft ads let Gates use the sympathy capital that Apple built up for PC guy. I think they’re an OK start at rebuilding Microsoft’s image, making them relatable and reminding people what they’ve accomplished over the years. Microsoft isn’t going to out-cool anyone, and they’re be mocked for trying. This is much better than corporate gibberish like people_ready.

Update (2008-09-15): Jesper’s take.

3 Comments RSS · Twitter

I'm not impressed with the Gates-Seinfeld ad. I hope the next ones in the series are better. As my wife pointed out, just like the Seinfeld TV show the ad was about nothing. Too bad.

I agree about the smugness of the Apple ads, and it seems like the concept has been run into the ground. Perhaps it is time for Apple to get a new ad campaign. Apple's computer sales are strong, but I don't think that is because of the last few months of commercials and instead from the iPod-iPhone/now-Macs-are-Intel crossover audience.

This will be interesting.

Ads can be used to change how you are perceived, but they can’t change _who you are_.

Apple isn’t “cool” because of their Mac vs. PC ads, or their iPod ads. They are “cool” because of the products they make. While those ads might have helped change the perception, the reason it has stuck is because “cool” is what Apple _is_ now.

Microsoft might be able to use these ads to change the perception that they aren’t “very much fun” or “don’t care about innovation” or “don’t have a soul”, but if they really aren’t these things none of that will matter in the long run. You can only use ads as a disguise for so long.

Branding can’t change Microsoft at its core. Microsoft has to do that. If they do, these ads will help push that perception to the public. If they don’t, none of it will matter.

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