Microsoft pulls the plug on Gates-Seinfeld ads; Campaign's next phase set to begin

Microsoft pulls the plug on Gates-Seinfeld ads; Campaign's next phase set to begin

Summary: Microsoft is pulling the plug on the team of Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Gates as the TV spokesmen trying to reinvent the image of Windows. The official word from Redmond is that the company had always planned to pull the plug on the two when the $300 million ad campaign shifted into phase two, which will be announced Thursday.

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Microsoft is pulling the plug on the team of Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Gates as the TV spokesmen trying to reinvent the image of Windows.Gates Seinfeld The official word from Redmond is that the company had always planned to pull the plug on the two when the $300 million ad campaign shifted into phase two, which will be announced Thursday. Valleywag broke the news and immediately sparked a flurry of blog posts that all cast doubt on Microsoft's story. It's hard to imagine that the used-to-be-funny man Seinfeld collected $10 million for those two spots.

The commercials were a train wreck from the beginning and only reinforced the idea that Microsoft is so far disconnected from regular consumers that it has no idea how to talk to them - even in an ad campaign. Windows Vista has become the laughing stock of the tech world, a long-overdue operating system that was so riddled with problems that even Dell found a way to keep selling machines with Windows XP long after Vista debuted. And let's not forget Apple's "I'm a Mac, I'm a PC" ads that were not only funny and to the point but also did a great job as portraying Microsoft and Windows as stodgy, old and out-of-touch.

Just last week, Microsoft was still defending the idea that this bit between Jerry and Bill was just the set-up to the campaign - like a shoulder-tap from someone at a cocktail party as if to say, "Excuse me. Can I have your attention for a moment." It's almost too bad that Microsoft pulled the plug. The second commercial had a few funny parts and was finally starting to pave the way toward a message. The reason they're living with real people is because they've lost touch - seeing how Gates lives in a giant "moon house hovering over Seattle like a mother ship" and Seinfeld "has so many cars he gets caught in his own traffic."

In a posting on the official Windows Vista blog, Chris Flores tries to squash the rumors that the plugged was pulled on Seinfeld-Gates:

So there seems to be the rumor running around that we're supposedly cancelling our Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld ads tomorrow. I wouldn't count on anything being "cancelled". It was always the plan to have Jerry Seinfeld in the first phase of the campaign and not a part of every ad. Instead, our Windows Consumer Campaign is moving into the next phase and we did mention previously that you should expect the campaign to evolve. I'll direct you to a post by Stuart Elliott of The New York Times to shed some light on what's next for our ad campaign.

More to come - stay tuned!

The NYT says Eva Longoria is one the celebs who will be in the next wave of commercials. OK, I guess I'll keep watching.

Topics: Operating Systems, Microsoft, Software, Windows

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149 comments
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  • This is certainly strange.

    Theres a lot more to this than we are being told.
    ChrisOPeterson
    • No...

      ...there isn't.
      Sleeper Service
      • they woke up Jerry for nothing?

        Oh no! He got 10 million. Microsoft gets filantrophic and donates to Jerry Seinfeld because they like them so much.

        In appreciation, Jerry gave 2 ads for free if his hero Bill Gates would be co-starring?
        TedKraan
        • What the hell are you talking about?

          Seriously.
          Sleeper Service
          • the Seinfeld-Gates ad thing

            they canceled them. Just read the article, it's mentioned in it there somewhere. promise.
            TedKraan
          • They stopped them...

            ...according to plan. This isn't the same as cancelling.

            I read the NYT article, the Valleywag article and MS's statement. It helps in forming an objective viewpoint y'see.
            Sleeper Service
          • but why?

            I was getting kind of curious how it would continue.

            Bill Gates having to stay over at strange people their house.
            TedKraan
          • It served it's purpose...

            ..which was to get people talking and for most of that talk to be favourable.

            Although I would like to see them continue the theme and, who knows, they may very well do so after this phase.
            Sleeper Service
          • Then it *didn't* "serve its purpose", did it.

            [i]"..which was to get people talking"[/i]

            MS certainly achieved that much.

            [i]"and for most of that talk to be favourable."[/i]

            And [b]that's[/b] the part that these adverts failed miserably on. At best, people seem more baffled by them than anything else.
            Zogg
          • So you missed the bit...

            ...where a survey of web forums showed the comments to be favourable in two-thirds of the sample?

            OK.
            Sleeper Service
          • Ah, "statistics". Must be true then.

            Particularly if those unspecified "web forums" are ones visited by you, xunil_z and Crashpad. After all, you all seem so [b]busy[/b] in this one... ;-)

            [i]"I read the NYT article, the Valleywag article and MS's statement."[/i]

            Here is a little quote from the Valleywag article which seems relevant:

            [i]"Microsoft flacks are desperately dialing reporters to spin them about "phase two" of the ad campaign..."[/i]

            So MS's PR department has mobilized! No kidding.
            Zogg
          • The research was undertaken...

            ...by an independent consultancy - Zeta Interactive. I believe their results are a matter of public record.

            However, oncer again, if you have any objective evidence to counter their claims then I would be interetsed to see it.

            Over to you.
            Sleeper Service
          • So you've seen the full results?

            All the NYT has to say is:

            [i]"Another research company, Zeta Interactive, using what it calls its Relevant Noise tool to mine places online like blogs and message boards for brand conversations" ...

            "Of the posts analyzed by Relevant Noise during that stage of the teaser campaign, 63 percent were characterized as positive and 37 percent as negative."[/i]

            Nothing about how big the sample was, or how the sample was selected, or even how the Relevant Noise tool works or (more importantly) how it was used in this particular case. And then there's the question of who was analyzing the output, and what constituted "positive" and what was considered "negative". The word I used was "baffled" - is that positive, negative, or neutral? Notice that 63 + 37 = 100, and so Zeta obviously didn't even [i]consider[/i] something being "neutral". Could [b]that[/b] be why the "positive" score is so high - because anything not obviously derogatory was considered "positive"?

            So do you have any of this information, or do you just have more "belief"?

            Of course, some (cynical) people believe that some market research firms find ways to get the results that the company [b]hiring[/b] them wants to receive.

            [u]And the bottom line is[/u]: I [b]also[/b] saw both ads, and I wondered what on Earth they had to do with anything. I will not miss them.
            Zogg
          • For the most part...

            From what I have seen so far the people who have been most vocal about disliking the commercials sound very much like they have no use for MS to begin with. Anti MS sentiment is one thing, but when you have people oddly claiming the ads were a train wreck when most people found them to be usual but interesting.

            If anyone thinks the ads were meant to say anything more then to cause a stir and introduce the campaign then they should explain how it was they came to that conclusion because the ads seem to blatantly be aimed at doing nothing more then that and that is what has been claimed.

            And it seems to me that right before the second ad appeared there was already word out that it wouldn't be long before the campaign switched gears into another phase. Clearly the notion that these ads were cancelled in some way also appears to have no foundation in fact.

            Its like there is this collection of people out there who are hoping that the MS campaign is going to be a dismal failure, and that in itself is so odd. It would kind of like hoping that Ford or Walmarts next advertising campaign fails. Why does anyone care in that kind of way?

            People often say, I hate this ad, or I like that ad, but in this case to see people actually going out of their way to insinuate that the ads are failing when the reality is quite different is really strange.
            Cayble
          • Zogg, do you actually have a point to make?

            Or are you just randomly flailing about?

            If you don't like the source - which seems good enough for the NYT - the find something that disproves it and tells me I'm wrong because I'm not really interested in your subjective opinion.

            k?
            Sleeper Service
          • If you don't agree with my subjective opinions...

            ... then you [i]could[/i] simply stop responding to my posts! It's not difficult - no-one's forcing you to reply(?). But I have [b]every[/b] right to [i]hold[/i] subjective opinions, and to post them here, thank you very much.

            And my point is simple: "Yes", I do believe the ads were pulled before MS originally intended, and that now the MS spin-machine is in overdrive in order to save face. Similarly, I notice that you and a few notable others are [u]also[/u] in overdrive on this message board - a coincidence, I'm sure...

            BTW, I take it from this statement:

            [i]"If you don't like the source - which seems good enough for the NYT"[/i]

            that the [u]only[/u] thing that either of us knows about the Zeta Interactive statistic is from the NYT article, and that neither of us has seen a complete description of how it was computed. So the usual caveat of "Lies, damn lies and statistics" stands (as it must). And my points about the gaps in our knowledge here are both relevant and valid. Now if you could provide a link to the full report (which you said you believed was "a matter of public record") then that would be wonderful.
            Zogg
      • Oh and why this really is bad journalism...

        http://gizmodo.com/5051682/microsoft-ads-featuring-bill-gates-and-jerry-seinfeld-not-canceled

        Poor Sam. Letting ones personal hatred cloud ones journalistic integrity is a terrible thing.

        Oh and I note that Sam has changed his title to indicate that "most experts consider it to be a trainwreck".

        Hmm...

        What 'experts', Sam? The ones in the tech blogging community? The ones in the press? The man in the pub?

        Because, you see, it seems that most of the advertising analysts actually think it was [i]pretty good[/i] based on their research and, since it's an advertising campaign, would it not be unreasonable to assume that they are the experts here?

        Or should we just take the opinions of a small group of people with preconceived views as gospel?

        Hmm?
        Sleeper Service
      • yeah there really is.

        You don't plan and execute a marketing scheme this big
        only to cancel it 2 spots in.

        Microsoft says that this was planned but that just doesn't
        make much sense. Are they going to continue the theme
        they were starting to develop? It didn't make much sense
        at first but I can see how the commercials could develop.

        There is likely something else going on that is causing this
        transition.
        ChrisOPeterson
  • RE: Microsoft pulls the plug on Gates-Seinfeld ads; Campaign's next phase set to begin

    <em>Vista has become the laughing stock of the tech world, a long-overdue operating system that was so riddled with problems that even Dell found a way to keep selling machines with Windows XP long after Vista debuted</em>
    <br /><br />
    and you are the laughing stock of ZDNet. Your mindless Vista bashing, that is based on no facts what-so-ever, sound like the mindless droning of the people on PCWorld and other 3rd rate websites. ZDNet is better than this and should really rise above it.
    cfischer83@...
    • Agree...

      ...he should really do his research before blindly copying stuff from (LOL) Valleywag.

      NYT shows the perception surveys indicating a 3% increase in positive perception and a 5% reduction in ngative perception. In addition research shows that two thirds of the commenters received the adverts positively.

      But hey, it's easier just to rehash stuff than do a bit of work, eh?

      This is a case of better not to write something and be thought a fool than to write something and confirm it.
      Sleeper Service