You've probably seen the new Microsoft Windows TV ads featuring Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Gates. The second in the series showed up last night.
When I first heard that Jerry Seinfeld was signed for the ad campaign, I wasn't really sure if he would appeal to the current generation (and I'm not sure he does). I'm a Seinfeld fan though, so I was curious what the campaign would be like. I have to be honest - the ads were completely not what I was expecting. FWIW, not many in the company had seen the ads before they were shown publicly - at least, I hadn't.
Anyways, it seems like the ads have people talking. From what I've read, the reaction seems to be neutral to leaning negative - I think people were expecting a more direct retort to Apple's Mac vs PC ads. Personally, I found the ads pretty amusing. Subtle humor, no direct attacks and entertaining. I think Bill easily outshines Jerry in both ads so far. I had seen Bill Gates act in silly videos at company meetings before, plus in his last day at Microsoft video, so I knew he can do a decent job but I didn't think he could out-do Seinfeld. There are subtle references to Microsoft products and technologies throughout the ads - pretty funny for someone close to Microsoft but I can see how pretty much everyone else might miss it. From the coverage the campaign has gotten and the pervasiveness of the ad spots, I'm pretty impressed with how much buzz the campaign has already generated. A lot of critics have complained that the ad hardly mentioned Microsoft or Windows... does it really need to, though? Bill Gates == Microsoft == Windows. No more logos/information needed.
Knowing nothing other than what I've seen on TV so far, I think this will definitely be a long-remembered ad campaign. It looks like its going to be one of those hugely successful or hugely miserable ad campaigns. Of course, given that work @ Microsoft I hope it's successful.
I wonder how many CEOs have featured in ads. I can remember a few in recent times - Chrysler, Sprint, Ford. None of those had the CEO doing comedy, though. CEOs, especially founder-CEOs, have huge brand appeal and brand recognition so they seem to be a natural fit for come-back type ads. I hope Microsoft has better success than Ford, Chrysler and Sprint are having currently, though.
Given the buzz around the ads, I was kinda annoyed when David Webster from Microsoft, who's apparently running this campaign, posted an entry on his blog trying to justify the ads - the text of the post just reeks of defensiveness. If you're ballsy enough to sanction $300 million for an ad campaign, there's no need to put up a blog post trying to justify it even before the entire campaign has run its course. His tone sounds like he's trying to save his job already - where's the confidence, man? Super lame, Mr David Webster. I think you should've just kept quiet and let the campaign do the talking (or not, if they don't succeed).