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Microsoft's $300 Million Makeover

You know those Apple commercials that skewer Microsoft: "I'm a Mac, I'm a PC." They're helping Apple sell more computers, but they're not helping Microsoft any. Especially as Microsoft battles with negative publicity over its latest operating system, Windows Vista.

Now Microsoft is fighting back with its own message, investing $300 million in a new campaign for Windows, to remake its image as a consumer-friendly brand.

Who better to help Microsoft than one of the most loved comedians of the past few decades: Jerry Seinfeld.

Microsoft is paying him a reported $10 million to appear along with Bill Gates in a series of ads starting September 4. Microsoft isn't commenting on the ads, but from what sources are telling me, this campaign aims to reposition the Windows brand. The goal is expand Windows to mean more than just computer software, to inclued Microsoft's online and mobile products. THis follows a couple of Microsoft's recent initiatives to reverse negative reactions to its latest "Windows Vista" software.

The bottom line: Microsoft is fighting back against Apple's ads and the competitive marketplace as a whole. In the second quarter, Apple reported that sales of its Mac computers grew 41 percent. Meanwhile, sales of the overall PC market grew 15 percent. So needless to say, Apple's easy systems and hip ads are working.

Critics say no celebrity is big enough to transform Microsoft's image, they need to change their products. From what I'm hearing Microsoft is well aware of that, and this campaign will be one of many pushes to change not only Microsoft's image, but also the way that consumers interact with Microsoft products.

Questions? Comments? MediaMoney@cnbc.com

  • Working from Los Angeles, Boorstin is CNBC's media and entertainment reporter and editor of CNBC.com's Media Money section.