Bill Gates Has Heart Attack While Watching His New TV Commercials

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.


GEICO Needs to Leave the Dark Ages

Can we finally call it quits to those caveman ads?  Hey, they were funny at one point.  Very original.  Could be watched over and over.  And, now they’re boring.   An over-played joke.   Gives you the “where’s the remote, must be something better on” feeling.

GEICO has many ad themes.  (1) Caveman, (2) Lizard, (3) Dramatic story as told by celebrity fill-in.  (4) Race cars.  You can see the whole list of ad campaigns on wikipedia.  GEICO on Wikipedia.  The caveman ads are by far the worst in the lineup now after at one point being the most popular.  So, what happened?  It’s pretty simple…you can only run the same basic joke some many times.  They could keep if they tried another punchline, but they haven’t changed.  “So easy a cavaman can do it” was funny about 2 years ago.

So easy GEICO can't change it
So easy GEICO can keep it running?

TIme to fire that ad agency. the Martin Agency.  Or, at least tell the Martin’s to find a new theme.  It shouldn’t be that hard.  Similarly, with so many other GEICO ad themes, why does it need to continue.  GEICO/Martin Agency has print and TV ads for Caveman.  Frankly, I don’t see the point.  For a print ad, a blank white page with the word in the middle would be more effective than to see another caveman pic.

Do you remember that Caveman also made it to primetime TV?  Now, there’s a winner.  *Stunned*, simply bowled over that show didn’t make it.  Head to the race track now and bet on that horse.  Not.  Well, it ran from October 2, 2007 to November 13, 2007 (about 6 or 7 shows).  The show was actually placed on hold in conjunction with the Writers Guild of American Strike.  Caveman was cancelled before the strike ended.  GEICO then has attempted to resurrect the fun.  They’re fun is my loss.

There must be something else.  Hire a new agency if you have to.  You obviously have the ad budget and good brand recognition.  What’s the hold up?  Or, shall I say, where’s the light?