Keep the faith: More Windows-specific consumer ads coming soon

Keep the faith: More Windows-specific consumer ads coming soon

Summary: 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.

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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.

[Poll=27]

Other takes on the new ad welcome in the Talkbacks.

Topics: Windows, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Software

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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Talkback

112 comments
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  • Extended Length Version of New Ad Up

    There's already a director's cut of the 2nd installation online now:
    http://video.msn.com/video.aspx?vid=20040177-aa27-4f24-a1ae-140c865c81f9
    Windows Outreach
    • Once is enough. Thank you. [nt]

      :-(
      Arm A. Geddon
      • Agreed

        Wow. "Perpetually Connecting."

        Pointlessly Clueless.

        Now I understand what some friends tried to explain to me about Seinfeld.

        "It's about ... nothing! Absolutely ... nothing!"
        Cardhu
    • the long cut

      Now that I've had a chance to watch the long cut, the second ad grew on me (a little!). Yes, a more than four-minute ad is way too long. But the long cut is a lot better than the 90 second version -- which still left me (like Ad No. 1) completely befuddled as to what MSFT thinks it is doing to help its reputation and/or the perception of Windows with this campaign. MJ
      Mary Jo Foley
      • Long cut at microsoft.com

        Oh, I only saw the long cut, hence my enthusiasm. I believe that's it on microsoft.com/windows/
        orcmid
      • Out of interest...

        Have you considered that a (large) majority of people who see the commercials will have no idea as to who the characters are, be it by name or face, let alone have any clue as to what is being sol?

        Add that to your befuddlement as to what they're trying to get across as a message, well, this ad campaign is just weird.
        zkiwi
        • seriously?

          You're trying to claim that Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld are unknown characters?
          rtk
          • Your Constant Hyperbole

            The point the poster is making is not that Misters Seinfeld and Gates are unknown.

            The point is that understanding the Seinfeld-Gates ads requires understanding what the Seinfeld show is about.

            Absolutely nothing, just as friends of mine once struggled to explain to me.

            For those of us who watch History, National Geographic, Science, Smithsonian, Discover, NCIS, and The Closer, the concept of people willingly watching a pointless show about nothing is very hard to understand.

            It's simply a waste of time. Just like these Seinfeld-Gates advertisements.
            Cardhu
          • basic reading skills, cardhu

            [i]The point the poster is making is not that Misters Seinfeld and Gates are unknown.[/i]

            Really? How about you decode this sentence and tell us all what the point was:

            [b]Have you considered that a (large) majority of people who see the commercials will have no idea as to who the characters are, be it by name or face[/b]

            To the English speaking majority on these forums, he's claiming Gates and Seinfeld are unknown.
            rtk
          • He's right

            My mom dad dont know gates or seinfeld. Same with my mother inlaw, brothers and 4 sisters dont know him Hell of alot of people dont just because in matters squat to them who thses people are.
            CrashPad
          • As Usual, You Quote Out Of Context

            The poster also said:

            "Add that to your befuddlement as to what they're trying to get across as a message, well, this ad campaign is just weird."

            You constantly take one tiny sliver, twist it far beyond the poster's intent, create a strawman argument, and then proceed to argue that the creation of your own mind is nonsensical.

            In that, you are sure to exceed. Yes, you are nonsensical.
            Cardhu
          • as usual, you attempt to deflect

            [i]You constantly take one tiny sliver[/i]

            It's not a "tiny sliver", it's two thirds of his post

            [i]twist it far beyond the poster's intent[/i]

            He plainly stated the majority don't know who Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld are, by name or face. The only twisting going on here is your logic.

            There's no strawman here, your repeated attempts to create one where one doesn't exist calls into question your understanding of logical fallacy.

            It is perfectly safe to assume the majority of people have heard of the the nearly decade long title-holders of "richest man in the world" and "highest paid comedian".
            rtk
          • You confuse...

            Being "world famous" with being actually known. There are many "world famous" figures that just aren't known. Just ask anyone to pick the Queen of England, or even perhaps Hitler, Stalin or Mao out of a lineup. Most people wouldn't have a clue. The same goes for Gates and Seinfeld.

            That and they're not on any current "hot list" of celebrities. At best they're more like "Them, they're so last millenia!"
            zkiwi
          • No, I Simply Refuse

            to follow your red herrings.

            And zkiwi is right also.
            Cardhu
          • re: you confuse.

            @zkiwi: Both of their names are repeated throughout the commercials. You can't claim people don't know who they are by name or face, then claim they might be world famous by not easily recognized.

            @cardhu. Once again, your understanding of logical fallacies is sorely lacking. You've actually taken them to a new level, assuming dropping the name of one regardless of it's appropriateness somehow wins the debate in your favor.
            rtk
          • Here's a challenge for you...

            Get a picture of each of them and ask people at random who they are, with no prompting at all and see what response you get. And by people at random I'd suggest not IT workers.

            Other than that, note that you claiming that people are good at remembering people's faces and names is hardly supported by reality. People can't even do it well with prompting.
            zkiwi
          • The Point Is Understanding The Point Of The Seinfeld - Gates Ads

            Zkiwi originally questioned whether Mr. Seinfeld and Mr. Gates have ready public recognition and familiarity for the public to get the point of the Seinfeld-Gates ads.

            Considering that the viewer ratings of the Seinfeld Show peaked at under 21.3 million viewers in 1998 - or less than 7% of the American population - Zkiwi's question seems reasonable. Especially considering that was a decade ago. Public memory fades, people die, and new people are born.

            Bill Gates never frequented public TV. Bill Gates mainly appeared in press releases, conferences, and symposia. Mr. Gates was better recognized in the pages of InfoWorld than on public television.

            rtk continues to argue that zkiwi is trying to say that Mr. Seinfeld and Mr. Gates are "unknown." No-one here but rtk is arguing that. rtk is simply arguing with himself.

            I agree that the point of the ad is very obscure. That's because - there is no point. Just like the Seinfeld show, this Seinfeld-Gates ad is about nothing.

            Maybe the point of the ad should best remain obscure. If the public does get any point, it is how Microsoft wants to be perceived by the public exactly how Microsoft perceives the public - pointless, vacuous, prone to hypcrisy (the mustard) and lying to get their way (the giraffe).

            This is not a complimentary perception of the public.

            The ultimate irony is the end of the ad - Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld walking down the street pulling their own suitcases.

            A very strong metaphor for rejection by community.
            Cardhu
          • Cardhu and zkiwi are hilarious!!

            I love how upset these commercials have you! After posting 20 messages "about nothing", it is too late to try and tell us that you don't care. :)
            NonZealot
          • @NonZealot

            You're more confused than you should be.

            Perhaps you need to go get yourself a Mac or two :P
            zkiwi
          • Yes

            Seriously.

            Both of them aren't shall we say current in terms of their public visibility. More people in the US have never watched Seinfeld than have, and Gates isn't exactly on the celebrity "hot list" or anything.
            zkiwi