There sure was a lot of talk about the new ad campaign featuring Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld. It was supposed to be hilarious. It wasn’t. They are complete duds. There’s not a chance anyone, and certainly not even Bill Gates, would have a heart rate issue watching these ads, ’cause they’re really boring. Sleep inducing. About the only thing you might be having trouble with is keeping your hand from scratching your head as you try to reconcile what Bill, Jerry, Microsoft and some ad agency were thinking. The only good part of these ads for Microsoft is that everyone is talking about how crappy they are, so at least they can attribute the marketing spend to “share of voice”.
It’s been rumored that Microsoft will spend $300Million on this campaign with a new ad firm Crispin Porter & Bugusky. And, Seinfeld is getting a cool $10M for his spot. Now, there’s some heart valve clogging material for you.
In case you’ve been a little out of touch with seeing any good TV ads, Microsoft is seriously losing a branding popularity battle with Apple – even though the Apple ads only refer to “PC”. It could be Intel, HP, Dell, or Microsoft they’re actually talking about, but everyone knows it’s an on-going jab at Microsoft. And, Microsoft thought, “let’s just take our top visionary and a ton of money, and we’ll beat those Applewholigans”.
So, enter Jerry Seinfeld. The head comic, writer & producer of one the most successful TV sitcoms (at least in my generation). You know we’ll be watching Seinfeld re-runs til eternity, about as long as M*A*S*H and the Brady Brunch. We know Jerry for his comedy, his writing, his unbelievable wealth. Why on earth risk your reputation with the fuddy-duddies of Redmond? It couldn’t have been for the pay-day. Did Jerry have some sick debt to Gates with no chance of retribution? And, we’re subject to the aftermath?
It’s completely beyond comprehension why a man of Bill’s stature needs to be involved with such a terrible spot on TV. Is this his last gasp to inject positive vibes into the Microsoft brand? Did he really buy off on this? Please don’t tell me it was actually his idea (read = you better do what Bill says). You’re talking about a person that’s done hundreds, if not thousands, of appearances. Mostly all very serious and thought provoking, and I’m sure he’s left a few scripted chuckles along the way. But, other than having a great, geeky smile, he’s not someone we rely on to hit the funny bone. Surely, if you were able to play a roaring practical joke on him, it would be outrageously funny, but unlikely anyone would sign up for that. Love him or hate him, Bill certainly can never be replicated, duplicated, or in any way replaced, but doesn’t mean we need to see him do the robot or shake his booty on TV.
In a web2.0 world, where Ray-Ban, Nike, and Levis are kicking butt with viral videos and ads using a combination of YouTube, print ad, and TV, why is Microsoft simply left in the dust? Because in the web2.0 world, it’s not about outspending. It’s about outmaneuvering, creativity, and novelty. With all the money in the world – literally – it’s truly amazing Microsoft could compile such a horrible attempt.
Microsoft would have been better off paying a bunch of college grads $2Million to come up with whacked content and rough-cut video, and the result would be better viral branding and positive messaging than the waste they put on TV, and now subject to during national sporting events.