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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Microsoft dumps Seinfeld for next phase of ad campaign

So "What's the deal with Microsoft?"
After a disappointing series of ads featuring Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Gates, the "Windows.Life without walls" campaign is ditching the comedy legend and entering its second phase.

Seinfeld Jerry

The first three ads starring Seinfeld were criticized for their ambiguous nature. As a result, the campaign is morphing to a style that  everyday users who accentuate their natural talents with the help of Microsoft's products. One of the main challenges Windows faces is repairing its image, which has been essentially hijacked by Apple's "Get a Mac" ad series. David Webster, general manager for brand marketing at Microsoft, explained the identity dilemma in the New York Times' article.

 Apple executives have been using a lot of their money to de-position our brand and tell people what we stand for...they’ve made a caricature out of the PC, he added, which was unacceptable because you always want to own your own story...campaign illustrates a strong desire among Microsoft managers to take back that narrative, Mr. Webster said, and have a conversation about the real PC.

The irony surrounding the first phase of the campaign is that Windows distorted its image even further,instead of improving it.  Microsoft's situation reminds me of a few points I read in Allen P. Adamson's book, Branddigital.  In the intro, he lays out a couple of  strategies and principles regarding branding.

  • Find a relevantly different way to make life more convenient for consumers,and they'll seek you out.The best brands are based on powerful, yet simple consumer insights

   Apple has dominated Microsoft in this regard, especially in the aspect of simplicity. During the past five years, Apple's products such as the Ipod and Iphone helped it earn the reputation as the user-friendly brand, while Microsoft was viewed as the outdated,arrogant corporation that was past its prime.

  • One of the only sustainable competitive advantages a brand organization has is getting a terrific insight about its customers that it can call its own.

 This relates to the earlier quote by David Webster, where he feels like Apple has hijacked Microsoft's identity. If Microsoft loses its own identity, it certainly can't  find any unique way to connect with its user base.

 To reconnect and re-assure Windows users, Microsoft's next phase of ads must combine a message of quality and simplicity in a straightforward manner that doesn't leave the viewers scratching their heads about unclear metaphors. If you refer back to my Aug. 21 post, you'll see why I'm not surprised by the failure of the the Seinfeld/Gates tandem.

By Matt O'Hern at 09:09 AM | Comments (0)

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