Looks like scepticism was the right reaction when Microsoft announced it was hiring Jerry Seinfeld as its new $10 million pitchman. Seinfeld’s first commercial starring Bill Gates is out — shot in a mall shoe store — and it’s not going to help Microsoft look any cooler:
Update: As commenters rightly point out, the brand ad is getting its primary job done — getting people to talk about Microsoft. And since many people think it’s “cute,” even if not laugh-out-loud funny, hard to see that as a bad thing.
As SAI’s Henry Blodget noted last month:
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.
Seinfeld’s first commercial — especially the awkward computer conversation at the end — reminds us less of anything he’s done for American Express or on ‘Seinfeld’, but more of ‘Bee Movie’, or this Microsoft internal spot, complete with Bruce Springsteen cover band — which the company insisted was a joke:
Still hoping Bill and Jerry can make something memorable — like this old Gates/Steve Ballmer ad that Spark Capital’s Bijan Sabet reprises — but not holding our breath.
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