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What’s Your Take on the New Microsoft Ad?

So Microsoft has finally rolled out the first part of their new $300 million ad campaign set to regain the trust in the brand as well as put the breaks on the success Apple has acieved with their more and more obnoxious “Hi, I’m a Mac” pieces.

The new ad features comedian Jerry Seinfeld that meets Bill Gates at a discount shoe store called Shoe Circus where they discuss shoe fit, engage in the type of pointless banter you’ve come to expect from Seinfeld and ends with the most bizarre exchange of all time:

Seinfeld: “Just wondering: Are they ever gonna come out with something that’ll make our computers moist and chewy like cake so we can just eat ’em while we’re working? If it’s yes, give me a signal: Adjust your shorts.”
Gates: Adjusts his shorts by wiggling his butt
Seinfeld: “Oh, I knew it!”

The question is: Is this a good ad? Judging from the oppionins voiced throughout the interweb it seems people really hate it, most importantly because they a) expected something similarly smug and forcibly ironic as the Mac ads and b) don’t understand what they are all about. Then there’s also the issue that people – or at least bloggers – in general have a less than favourable view of Microsoft and love to rag on them any chance they get.

If you cut past all the anti-Microsoft noise and strip the ad down to it’s components you start to see a vague image emerge. First off, this ad has nothing to do with Microsoft or Windows or Vista or anything else: It’s obviously the first of a series that will evolve into something more all encompassing. More than anything it looks like the intention of this ad is first and foremost to establish Jerry Seinfeld as the new face of Microsoft much like Justin Long has become the face of Mac. It also sets the tone for the future campaign: Microsoft is turning a page becoming less corporate and more quirky. Gates’ hip wiggle at the end pretty much says it all.

My worry is that this ad, if broadcast on regular TV, will just leave people shaking their heads and wondering what the hell they just watched. That is unless a follow up ad that is both funnier and makes more sense follows shortly thereafter. The danger here is that when people see Jerry Seinfelt, they expect to fall off their couches laughing about 5 secconds later. And that doesn’t happen here. At least not yet.

I’m not going to judge this ad by itself but wait to get a broader understanding of the entire campaign. Still, I can hardly say that this bizarre display of understated trivialities will bring droves of doubters to the stores to pick up Microsoft products. But then I don’t think that’s the intention either: People buy Microsoft products no matter what – and PCs still outsell Macs by an enormous margin. The real point of this campaign seems to be to change the overall image of Microsoft. I’m just hoping that message isn’t “we are confusing and unfunny”.

That’s my take. What’s yours? Drop me a line below and tell me what you think.

By Morten Rand-Hendriksen

Morten Rand-Hendriksen is a Senior Staff Instructor at LinkedIn Learning (formerly specializing in AI, bleeding edge web technologies, and the intersection between technology and humanity. He also occasionally teaches at Emily Carr University of Art and Design. He is a popular conference and workshop speaker on all things tech ethics, AI, web technologies, and open source.

3 replies on “What’s Your Take on the New Microsoft Ad?”

CNet got a hold of the VP responsible for the series of ads and were pretty much told that this ad had done exactly what it was supposed to do: make people talk, which they are, for better or worse. The subsequent ads will start to make more sense, and eventually even take jabs at Apple themselves for their closed platform. I guess we’ll see if this campaign will succeed or fail soon enough.

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Hm, I expected something much funnier… Anyway, I like the fact that Bill Gates took part in the ad, but I think they should come up with something more interesting…

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