September 12, 2008
Microsoft this week unveiled the latest ad in its $300 million multimedia campaign to give the staid Windows franchise an image makeover.
In the new spot, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates and comedian Jerry Seinfeld pose as lodgers in the home of a typical, middle-American family (albeit, one in which the grandmother wields a chainsaw and performs auto repairs). The reason: "We need to connect with real people," says Seinfeld, who notes that Gates "is living in some kind of moon house hovering over Seattle like the mother ship." Seinfeld also confesses that, "I've got so many cars I get stuck in my own traffic." The ad appears to be a tacit admission by Microsoft that it has become out of touch with the computing needs of everyday users. Vista, the current version of the Windows operating system, was widely criticized upon its debut last year for containing too many extraneous features that place heavy demands on host PCs. The spot closes with Seinfeld asking Gates what's next in technology: "Frog with an e-mail, goldfish with a Web site, amoeba with a blog?" Seinfeld asks Gates to perform the robot dance if the answer is yes. Gates awkwardly complies. The spot debuted Thursday during CBS's broadcast of the reality show Big Brother. Like the first ad in the campaign, which aired last week, the spot does not specifically mention Windows Vista or any other Microsoft product. It's apparently meant to give the overall Microsoft brand a more human face. The company, however, said Thursday that that will change. "Very soon, the campaign will turn toward communicating specifically about the Windows brand and the products that carry the Windows flag," Microsoft said in a post on its Web site. Microsoft hired award-winning ad agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky to create the campaign, at a reported cost of $300 million. It will feature television and Web ads, as well as point-of-sale promotions. The first ad, which featured Seinfeld helping Gates try on shoes at a discount store in a mall, reportedly left many viewers and pundits nonplussed. Microsoft, nonetheless, is vowing to press on with the campaign. "Stay tuned," the company said.
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