Microsoft Drops Seinfeld For Its Own PC Guy - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

IoT
IoT
Software // Operating Systems

Microsoft Drops Seinfeld For Its Own PC Guy

The latest ad in Microsoft's $300 million Windows campaign features PC users from all walks of life, including a Microsoft engineer who mimics Apple pitchman John Hodgeman.

Microsoft on Thursday will unveil the second phase of a $300 million ad campaign that's designed to burnish the somewhat staid image of its core Windows OS franchise.

The latest ad, a 60-second spot called "Pride," aims to challenge the notion, instilled by Apple's highly successful "Get A Mac" advertisements, that Windows users tend to be dull, middle-management, bean-counter types.

"I'm a PC, and I've been made into a stereotype," says an actor who mimics Apple "PC Guy" John Hodgeman, in the new ad's opening sequence. The actor, in fact, is a Microsoft computer engineer named Sean Siler. Hodgeman's portrayal of an anthropomorphized, and highly put upon, Windows PC helped make the "Get A Mac" campaign a TV and Internet smash.

Microsoft's new ad continues with an eclectic group of individuals from various walks of life -- musicians, researchers, farmers, merchants, and even Bill Gates himself -- testifying that "I'm a PC." It's set to debut during Thursday evening's broadcast of The Office on NBC.

"The goal is to celebrate the basic truth about Windows, which is that it's used by nearly a billion people around the world," said David Webster, Microsoft's general manager for brand marketing, in an interview Thursday. "And that those people do an amazingly diverse and interesting set of things with it."

The ad comes on the heels of a pair of spots in which Gates and comedian Jerry Seinfeld, both multimillionaires, roamed the country trying to connect with everyday Americans -- a sign that Microsoft may have conceded that its software development process has become too detached from the wants and needs of typical computer users.

Windows Vista, which debuted last year, was widely criticized for having numerous extraneous features that weren't likely to be used much but which require a considerable hardware footprint to run properly. Partly as a result, Microsoft in recent months has been losing market share to Apple, whose Leopard OS is viewed by some critics as slicker and more elegant than Vista.

The Seinfeld ads, however, left many viewers and advertising experts nonplussed. The spots did not mention Vista, or even Windows, and many commentators thought they weren't very funny, despite Seinfeld's presence. "Whether or not people get all the details of a narrative is a fair question," said Webster.

Microsoft has discontinued the Seinfeld spots, but not as a result of the critical reaction, according to Webster. "The whole plan was for the Seinfeld ads to be a lead-in," said Webster, who added that their brief, two-week run "is about average for a teaser campaign." Seinfeld was reportedly paid $10 million for the work, though Webster said that number "is not entirely accurate."

Whether the new ad will be greeted more positively is an open question. Like the Seinfeld spots, it does not mention Vista or Windows. Webster says that's by design. The overall campaign will include print and online segments that will specifically feature Windows Vista, while the television ads are designed "to take back the PC brand," said Webster.

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Commentary
Future IT Teams Will Include More Non-Traditional Members
Lisa Morgan, Freelance Writer,  4/1/2020
News
COVID-19: Using Data to Map Infections, Hospital Beds, and More
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  3/25/2020
Commentary
Enterprise Guide to Robotic Process Automation
Cathleen Gagne, Managing Editor, InformationWeek,  3/23/2020
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Video
Current Issue
IT Careers: Tech Drives Constant Change
Advances in information technology and management concepts mean that IT professionals must update their skill sets, even their career goals on an almost yearly basis. In this IT Trend Report, experts share advice on how IT pros can keep up with this every-changing job market. Read it today!
Slideshows
Flash Poll