They started with such fanfare: Microsoft on the offensive, launching a new TV ad campaign, spending $10 million for the services of comedian Jerry Seinfeld, who would be part of a massive, $300 million ad spend.
To say the ads were met with mixed reviews is putting it kindly. Seinfeld joined Bill Gates in these quirky ads that made little sense, had virtually no message, and sent tongues wagging not for their creativity or how compelling they were, but how weird they were instead.
A blog or two speculated tonight that Microsoft would announce the end of those ads tomorrow. I've just spoken to a Microsoft source who confirms the ads will cease, that Microsoft is canceling them after only a few weeks and will be making that announcement tomorrow.
It's a stunning rebuke for an ineffective concept that seemed misguided from the beginning, and had no chance at all of competing against the wildly successful "I'm a Mac/I'm a PC" ads. (I've written a couple of posts recently about this.)
And it's an even bigger black eye for ad firm Crispin Porter+Bogusky. The firm's had a spotty track record with avant-garde concepts that resonate for their strangeness, sometimes more than their effectiveness. Sadly, for Microsoft, this might be another one of those times.
Microsoft tells me that the plan was never to use Seinfeld beyond the two or three ads he's already appeared in. I find that next to impossible to believe. That's a healthy chunk of change for such a tiny amount of work. If true, then Microsoft sure seems to be playing fast and loose with its money, and in an economy like this one, that's a bit of a surprise. If not, why lie about it? It's not like the ads were a secret. We all saw 'em. And most of us had the same reaction.
Just a shame that Microsoft didn't have the same reaction before those ads actually made it to air.
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