If you haven’t seen it already, Microsoft [NASDAQ:MSFT] has commissioned a new advertisement featuring Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld, in an attempt to salvage public opinion of its new OS, Vista. Curiously, the ad doesn’t make mention of Vista at all, but rather, plays out a Seinfeldian scenario in which the comedian helps Gates buy a pair of shoes.
Opinions of the ad — from comments on YouTube to various blog posts lambasting the ad concept — have been largely negative, but Microsoft apparently has a plan that it’s trying to execute. A senior VP at the cmpany, Bill Veghte, wrote an email to his staff which was later leaked, saying that the ad is the first of a series meant to serve as as “icebreaker to reintroduce Microsoft to viewers in a consumer context.” That philosophy also seems to be the impetus behind their line of “Mojave” ads, in which customers are tricked into thinking the demo computers they’re using are running a top-secret new OS. When they praise it, they’re informed it’s Vista. At the end of the ad, the Windows logo flashes up along with the word “delicious” (the dialogue closes with a discussion of hybrid cake computers.)
In this blogger’s opinion, what might be striking a negative nerve with viewers is the company’s attempt to change its customers instead of its software. Rather than addressing concerns, and trumpeting their progress in that endeavor, the Redmond folks are convinced that their product is just fine, and that it’s the consumers that need to be told how to think of Vista (as “delicious.”) That said, the ad is funny. Surprisingly funny. Gates plays a good straight-man, and Seinfeld carries the ad well. We’ll see if future ads can “break the ice” a little more.