The new MSFT ad campaign for Vista featuring Jerry Seinfeld debuted last Thursday, to arched eyebrows and mixed reviews. The strategy is pretty obvious: Apple has cornered the urban-hipster niche, and has done a good job of portraying Windows users as corporate drones. So Microsoft has decided, instead of trying to directly counterbrand against the negative campaigning from Apple, to strike out into the land of quirk.
I actually think it is pretty successful. But then, I love Seinfeld, and I think that to the extent that they are trying to simply piggyback the Vista branding on his persona, it works nicely. They were smart to treat Gates as basically a mannequin (his performance reminds me of the time Wayne Gretzky hosted SNL — I think Gates says about six words in the whole spot). The ad ends with Seinfeld The ad concludes with Seinfeld asking Gates if a day will come when computers will be “moist and chewy like cake so we can just eat them while we’re working.”
It’s the sort of line that could have come across as far too precious, but Seinfeld manages to say it with enough of a smirk let the viewer know that he’s just messing around. Want to mess around some more? Buy Vista.
Microsoft has a long way to go in fixing its reputation and its products. But the campaign has given its developers a brand identity to shoot for.
Here’s a wsj piece about the ad’s reception.