Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Getting paid to suck

September 18, 2008 (Computerworld) The long, oft-baffling "teaser" ads" by Microsoft Corp. featuring Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Gates that kicked off two weeks ago are abruptly ending, the company said late Wednesday, as Part 2 of its $300 million Windows marketing rehab campaign begins

What a surprise. FIrst, the point of the spots was very out there. "Moist, chewy cake?" What? But, that wasn't the biggest problem. Jerry wasn't funny, and I thought the pace of the ads could have been quicker. But, that wasn't the biggest problem. The problem was Gates. He can't play himself.

So, now they're going to fix it.

Carrying the theme "Windows. Life without walls," the new ads will show Microsoft "audaciously embracing" the phrase "I'm a PC" -- which has been so successfully tarnished by Apple Inc.'s ads during the past two years -- in order to rehabilitate it, reported The New York Times.

One of the new commercials will even show a real Microsoft engineer who is a ringer for John Hodgman, the actor who plays the abused PC character in the Apple ads, introducing himself: "Hello, I'm a PC, and I've been made into a stereotype," according to the Times.

Apple has been "using a lot of their money to de-position our brand and tell people what we stand for," a Microsoft brand marketing manager told the Times. Microsoft wants "to take back that narrative," he continued, and "have a conversation about the real PC."

More than 60 Microsoft employees will appear in the ads, along with their e-mail addresses. Bill Gates, who was in the controversial first two ads, will show up in the subsequent ones, along with celebrities such as actress Eva Longoria, author Deepak Chopra and hip-hop singer Pharrell Williams.

In other words, they're going to copy Apple . . . again. Nice. As I've said, I'd start with making the product not suck. Microsoft has been forever a "lipstick on a pig" type of company. They, like Apple, need to rewrite their OS from the ground up.

The new ad won't help. It will look like another attempt to simply rip off something Apple has already done.

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