There are so many things that seem so extraordinary in theory, but the grandeur falls apart at the seams after execution. Like bottled water or Sarah Palin. Like a collaboration between Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Gates.
Microsoft kicked off their new ad campaign this week. Bringing out the big guns/dollars with their first commercial featuring the sneaker-wearing Seinfeld and the cheapest richest man Gates at a Payless-esque discount shoe store sharing insight on pleather footwear and the future of edible hardware. First thought: ????? Second thought: Thank Lord Elton John for DVR. It took a few viewings to piece together what Microsoft was trying to accomplish with this “commercial about nothing”. There were so many levels and angles Microsoft was trying to play in this ad that the end result was a mess of mug shots and wedgies. They are countering the “I’m a mac” commercials with Seinfeld; a cross-generational icon. But Jerry eating a chutto has a tough time proving its hip status up against the oh so cute mac guy, not to mention the “I’m a mac” commercials have been well established for 2 years now. Why start trying now? Trying to a desperate level no less; $300 million on a campaign starring two of the most visible and highest paid members of their industries is no understatement. The approach of the campaign is to show these two moguls as everyday Americans that shop in malls and sign up for retail discount memberships. But two globally discernible faces being normal, like the “Stars; They’re Just Like Us!” section of Us Weekly, has a depressing way of making a bike ride seem more fashionable than ordinary.
The official explanation from Microsoft is that this is only a “teaser” for future commercials meant to “engage customers in a conversation and dialogue in a humorous and intriguing way”. I believe that exact quote was used on the set of Seinfeld. Other then a flash of the Microsoft logo at the end of the commercial and the presence of Bill Gates, there is no mention of the company, products, or performance. I got a hold of the second commercial (Is there anything Youtube can’t give me?) This one gives us a future of fish with blogs, a small explanation of the duet’s adventure, and a pretty witty one liner (“You live in a moon house hoovering over Seattle and I have so many cars I get stuck in my own traffic jams”) , it still left me wondering when they were going to sell me something.
Remember when commercials used to be for products?