It turns out there’s a whole new part of Microsoft’s $300 million attempt to become cool (beyond the “See? Look! People don’t really hate Vista, they just think they do!” ads we’ve already discussed): a huge new ad campaign featuring Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld.
Specifically, Microsoft is paying Seinfeld $10 million to pal around with Gates and joke about how cool Windows is. The goal of the campaign? To get that nerdy Windows guy in the Apple ads out of people’s heads.
Will it work?
Microsoft will never be cool in the same way that Apple is cool–in part because companies with 90% market share are almost never cool (sorry, but nine out of 10 kids in the class can’t be cool). As Apple gains market share, by the way, it will become less cool: The cool kids don’t like to robotically embrace what everyone else does–that’s just not cool.
The good news for Microsoft is that being cool has never been a part of its success formula. The image of Vista is beyond saving at this point–and, yet, it has outsold every previous version of Windows at this point in its lifecycle by a mile. People don’t buy Microsoft products because they love them or the company: They buy them because they have no other choice (or didn’t, before the Internet came along and began to break apart the Windows hegemony, making room for Apple’s resurgence).
People do like Bill Gates, though. And they do like Seinfeld (though we expect his appeal is mainly to fogies like us). So maybe the ads will create some sort of a halo effect that will make people feel better about Microsoft–even as they thank the Lord they can finally buy something else.
But this still won’t solve Microsoft’s real problem, which has nothing to do with perception. Microsoft’s real problem is that its monopoly is eroding. And even Seinfeld won’t be able to change that.
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