If you liked the first Bill Gates/Jerry Seinfeld ad for Microsoft, you'll probably love the second. If you didn't, there's hope: A more Windows-centric one will air in a matter of days, according to Microsoft officials.
On September 11, ad No. 2 in the new Microsoft series aired on "Big Brother" reality show on CBS. (Microsoft provided me with access to the ad early, under embargo, so I had a chance to see it before it debuted on prime-time TV.)
The good news about the second ad designed for Microsoft by agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky: It's no less esoteric than the first -- but at least we now know the start of Microsoft's campaign to rebrand and reposition Windows among consumers is "about nothing." So it doesn't matter that there are no hidden clues or subliminal anti-Apple messages in the new, 90-second spot. You get to see Seinfeld clipping his toenails. Enough said. Here's the uncut version of Ad No. 2:
(Microsoft is showing Part 1 of the ad on September 11 and Part 2, during the "Ghost Whisperer" on September 12.)
The bad news about the ad: Like the first Seinfeld-Gates ad, which aired a week ago, the latest Microsoft consumer-focused ad does little, if anything, to endear Microsoft or Windows to consumers.
(Update: Windows Director Chris Flores reminded readers/viewers last night that the goal of the first few commercials is simply to get Microsoft noticed. Flores blogged: "Oscar Wilde's quote on the subject may be overused, but it's good to keep in mind when thinking about marketing products that can get taken for granted in today's crowded media landscape: 'The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.'")
"Very shortly, we will move into another phase of the campaign that will be about Windows," a Microsoft spokesman told me this evening. And "Windows," in this case, means desktop, laptop and mobile. "We're talking days," not longer, the spokesman said.
Microsoft paid somewhere shy of $300 million to create a new marketing/ad campaign aimed at improving the company's brand among consumers. Part of that money went for TV ads, and part went toward hiring 150-plus "Windows gurus" to help retail customers better understand how Windows-branded products should and could work.
Microsoft is expected to use the new ad campaign to help it cement the message that Windows is "without walls." Exactly what that means and what form the messaging will take is still unknown. But Microsoft is trying to emphasize that Windows Vista, Windows Mobile and Windows Live are all part of the same family....
Microsoft's public line is that the new consumer ad campaign is doing what the company intended: Getting people talking (even if negatively) about Microsoft and Windows. Officials are touting that the first ad saw more than 3 million views on YouTube. I'm not quite so sure than any publicity is good publicity, in this case.
Other takes on the new ad welcome in the Talkbacks.