COMMENT: Microsoft's Gates/Seinfeld ad bombs

Microsoft's latest advert featuring Bill Gates and US comic Jerry Seinfeld has been met with an overall negative response.

The 90-second commercial, made by Crispin Porter + Bogusky, that sees Seinfeld bumping into Gates whilst the ex-Microsoft boss is shopping in a discount shoe store, has been panned by the industry and public alike.

Comments on YouTube, where the ad has been posted several times, and watched hundreds of thousands of times already, are primarily negative, with examples like: "That is just stupid", and "I don't get it..." repeated a fair few times.

Some YouTube viewers have taken the time to write longer opinions, such as: "Pointless, nothing to do with Microsoft or its products. Just exercising the personality cult of Gates".

There's also: "Does it have a point? Just seems like a random weird conversation. Is it meant to make me like Microsoft? If so it hasn't worked yet".

As well as: "OK. This sucks. I am a big fan of Microsoft, but this really disappoints me. Mac vs PC ads are so much better".

In the industry Gizmodo says the ad "makes no sense", Silicon Valley Insider calls the ad "not funny", Engadget describes it as "cryptic", while Jack Schofield over at the Guardian asks: "On which planet does this advert make any sense?"

In response Microsoft has said the advert - that does not include a software reference and only mentions computers when Seinfeld says he wants them to be "moist and chewy like cakes" - is designed to provoke a debate.

Microsoft said: "These initial ads are the first in a creative campaign to spark a conversation about the Windows brand - a conversation that will evolve as the campaign progresses, but will always be marked by humour and humanity".

I'm not so sure the ad is as stupid as is being reported. Comparable to the Cadbury's drumming Phil Collins-loving gorilla ad that was not well received, but later become a cult favourite, I think this ad campaign could have a following.

I think that if Microsoft had run a cheesy campaign blindly lauding the features and virtues of Vista it would have been easily ignored - let alone be bait to Apple - but this is getting folk talking about the company and shows some kind of humour, even if it's fairly absurd kind.

Microsoft in the past had often promoted Gates as just an ordinary joe, albeit a klutzy, geeky one, with recent video jokes suggesting he never pays over $7 for a hair cut and drives a Ford Focus, and this continues that theme with Gates holding a loyalty card for the bargain shoe store.

Styled on the first episode of Seinfeld, and similar in some ways to the various spoof vids Microsoft has produced in the past with Gates versus celebrities, I think there's a quiet humour in the old Microsoft boss as compared to Seinfeld's brash exterior that the public may well warm too.

Whether or not they buy Vista is of course, entirely another matter.


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