Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Gates

September 5, 2008 at 11:56 am 3 comments

As part of a US$300 Million+ ad campaign, Microsoft engaged Jerry Seinfeld to do a commercial with Bill Gates. The commerical takes place in a shoe shop. It’s quirky, geeky, and well, actually, somehow honest about Microsoft.

Just a few weeks ago I had a discussion with Tom Acland, on why the hell tech brands (such as Dell, for example) try to be as cool and suave as Apple, when, in reality, they can’t pull it off. They come out with advertising and products that reek of copycat advertising and product strategy, which is not credible, and, even worse, kills the good stuff those brands do have. I guess their inability to develop their own strong brand purpose that is rooted in what people need and like about their brand creates a sense of reactive copying of another brand’s recipe. Problem is, you can’t copy Apple’s product and marketing innovation, you gotta come up with your own!

So how do you respond to Apple’s PC vs. MAC commericals when you are Microsoft?

I think they did a good job with Jerry (who somehow is a geek, too) and Bill does a good job of personifying Microsoft’s geeky brand character. After all, Microsoft is modeled after him, no point in pretending it’s something else. It has personality and of course, it has Jerry’s odd humor to transport it. Plus, it features little clues to Bill Gates trivia, such as a real (grinning) Mugshot of him in 1977 when he was arrested in New Mexico for a traffic violation, on the customer loyality card. Or, naming the shoe “The Conquistador” (repeated in Spanish by a Latin American family), as an obvious innuendo to Mircosoft’s corporate take-over plans. Nice.

I do think this might help Microsoft’s brand reputation in that it actually is truly a Microsoft thing to do. It’s honest, yet funny, and for once, doesn’t bombard you with boring product USPs. Microsoft personified, will still be the geek at the party, but at least true to himself and competent in his own right.

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. David Blomstrom  |  September 6, 2008 at 2:49 pm

    If the ad was honest, Bill Gates would be on his hands and knees admitting to a lifetime of de facto crime, blackmailing schools, exploiting children and on and on.

    No, there’s nothing honest about this ad. It’s simply bizarre.

    Reply
  • 2. multikultiMe  |  September 6, 2008 at 4:16 pm

    I don’t know about that. True, I appreciate the ‘not trying to be cool//celebrating geekdom’ aspect of the ad; however, I don’t quite buy the fact that Microsoft had to have Jerry Seinfeld (of “‘Don’t you know who I am??’ incredulity”, in his Larry King Interview) to do this for them. In fact, I think it takes away from the ‘everyman’ quality that Bill Gates (the Billionaire, let’s not forget) could still probably pull off, had another spokesman been picked – like Leno maybe, or Vince Vaughn, if it had to be a Promi. Or how about someone else? Like, say, how Apple got a ‘Justin Long’ out of nowhere and made him the Apple Person – who by the way, is more accessible (than a Jerry Seinfeld), and who, in the end, people (who are hip, or want to be hip) easily identify with.
    Did Microsoft need someone ‘of Bill Gates’ Caliber’ and thought they have that in Seinfeld? If so, I think it would’ve worked better with a character more accessible than Seinfeld. If not, they could have entirely created 2x Personae … or does that start to look like Microsoft copying Apple … again? (oops!)

    Reply
  • 3. Victor Hooper  |  October 20, 2008 at 3:35 am

    Overall the ad dose not make since in terms of how I can relate myself to a PC. Some critics say the ad is similar to the nothingness of the show Seinfeld, but I have never felt that the show is about nothing. Some point out that while Seinfeld was extremely popular and still is in reruns, Jerry has not participated in anything Major since the end of the show in 1998 except for the voice in the animated film The Bee Movie. I agree it is a poor choice since Microsoft wants to target the young. Having a guy from a show that they can vaguely remember as a child is not a good idea, nor is having Bill as part of the cast. But they wanted Jerry so badly in their new string of ads that they paid him $10 million for it.

    The most important thing in my opinion, is that Microsoft gets people talking like myself in the bologisphere and other forms of media. Its likely that the ad will make since once I see the other that follow it. Time will tell.

    Reply

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