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

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.

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.