September 20, 2008

Microsoft Replaces Seinfeld Ads With Real Users

Microsoft has discontinued its peculiar two-week ad campaign featuring the company's chairman, Bill Gates, with comedian Jerry Seinfeld.

Many in the online media speculate that the software giant retired the ads after a poor public reception.   

The ads, in which Gates and Seinfeld joke with each other at a shoe store and living with a suburban family, attempted to connect with regular people.  One of the ads shows Seinfeld asking Gates senseless questions about the future of computing, with Gates responding with "signs" when he's on the right path, such as "adjusting his shorts" as Seinfeld calls the cringe-worthy hip shake, and doing "the robot".

However, Mich Mathews, Microsoft's central marketing senior vice president, said Thursday that the company had always planned to replace the ads with ones that center around Windows.  The three Seinfeld ads were always intended to be temporary icebreakers to win the public's attention in a humorous way without mentioning the company's products.

"The notion that we're doing some quick thing to cancel (the Seinfeld ads) is actually preposterous," Mathews told the AP during an interview.

"Today was always the day"¦ Media buying is something you have to do months in advance," he said.

"We wanted to be sure that when we do come out with our major message, today, 'Life Without Walls,' more people would be paying attention than they would otherwise," Mathews said.

"My goodness, did we do that."

Microsoft has spent $300 million on the ad campaign, which was designed by the advertising agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky.

The ads aim to be a response to Apple's "I'm a Mac" ads.  A new TV ad set to debut next Thursday during NBC's "The Office" begins with a Microsoft engineer resembling the PC character in Apple's ads saying "Hello, I'm a PC, and I've been made into a stereotype."  This is then followed by a mosaic of real-life PC users, including celebrities, repeating the "I'm a PC" slogan.

Microsoft also aims to launch ads in print, on the Web and in other public spaces for Windows, Windows Mobile, Microsoft's Live services and its TV platform.

The company said it is "exploring options" for additional ads with Seinfeld, but that nothing has been filmed so far.


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