Microsoft-Seinfeld Ad Saga: Company "Clarifies" My Post

Jerry Seinfeld
Jerry Seinfeld

So now that Microsoft is moving beyond Jerry Seinfeld to the next wave of well-known pitch people, Microsoft called this morning to clarify a few things in my last post.

One: Seinfeld wasn't "fired," or "canned," or "cancelled," or "let go." The company said from the early going that the Seinfeld commercials were "teaser ads" meant to stir conversation and debate, and tee up this next round of ads.

Two: The Seinfeld ads were actually a resounding success, Microsoft says, leading to enormous market penetration and dialogue. In fact, a Microsoft spokesman tells me that more than 5 million people visited the Windows web site and YouTube to view the ads. By choice. In addition to whoever saw these ads as they ran on TV the past three weeks.

The next chapter of Microsoft's quirky campaign begins tonight with the theme "Windows. Life Without Walls." It'll feature Eva Longoria, Deepak Chopra and singer Pharrell Williams, among others. And rather than try to tease viewers, this campaign sounds as if it'll try to go after Apple and other rivals with a far more direct message. One of the new ads will feature an actor that looks an awful lot like "PC" John Hodgman from those iconic Apple ads, who says "Hello, I'm a PC, and I've been made into a stereotype."

Microsofthas apparently had it when it comes to letting Apple paint the company the way it wants to. And it's about time. What I can't figure out is why it has taken Microsoft so long to come around to this concept that it needs to fight back. And in a compelling way. The ads the company is talking about now, featuring stars of everyday life--in addition to some marquee, recognizable names, is the way to go.

The new series of ads will feature scientists and doctors, a shark hunter, teachers, and so many others whose lives have been changed by Windows-enabled PCs. Microsoft is setting out to turn the "I'm a PC" line made famous in the Apple ads as a joke, into a badge of honor. Celebrating what Microsoft has to offer and turning Apple's own gun on itself.

And for Microsoft fans--and they are out there, truly--they have to be saying, it's about time. Apple has had its way with Microsoft, at Microsoft's expense. The teaser ads with Seinfeld threatened to mire Microsoft in more of the same mediocrity. Instead, as the tip of the iceberg, Microsoft may now be positioned right in front of that massive ship headed its way with the big Apple logo on its side.

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I know, maybe a little exaggeration there. But don't underestimate the power of good advertising. Microsoft might be on to something. I've watched these ads. They couldn't be more different than Apple's ads and that's what could make them even more compelling. "I'm a PC." Say it loud. Say it proud. Microsoft finally says it's ok. And let this battle with Apple FINALLY begin.

Questions? Comments?