Branding Microsoft via Seinfeld’s “show about nothing”

Branding Microsoft via Seinfeld’s “show about nothing”

I can’t figure it out.

I was schooled in three types of advertising: product, corporate identity and direct response. I’ve performed all three as a copywriter for a very diverse set of clients, from IBM and Hewlett-Packard to Accolade Interiors and Conestoga Trading Company.

But there’s something wrong with the latest Microsoft campaign: It doesn’t fit in any accepted category. That’s OK if you’re bold enough and genius enough to know the basics and build upon them with innovative approaches.

It doesn’t sell, It doesn’t say anything about the corporate dreams, past or present. It doesn’t present information of use to anyone. It’s mildly but frantically entertaining (It took me several showings before I “got it”. I thought I’d missed something. But none of the first 70-seconds had anything to do with Microsoft.

You can see it by clicking Branding Microsoft with Seignfeld and Gates

Then, Seinfeld ends by asking about “chewy computers” when all anyone wants now is an efficient operating system.

In response to the Apple vs PC campaign, Microsoft is attempting to show a human personality. That may be all right, but I wouldn’t want to spend some 300-million dollars just for that, particularly in light of the seriousness of their decline in reputation associated with the Vista introduction and reaction.

When you think of the brand , Microsoft, and its heritage and mythology, the Seignfeld/Gates dialogs about nothing just don’t make much sense.

No, I’d first fix the product problems. Then I’d come on with an “I mean business” campaign full of solid, factual-based proof points about how Microsoft has innovated and will continue to innovate. I’d demonstrate that point, perhaps with employee profiles and their patents. Or I might look at some of the absolutely-need-to-be-reliable applications in which Microsoft is a computing partner.

There was nothing wrong with their older campaigns, particularly the one featuring the “chalk-board” turning dream to reality. The problem was Microsoft wasn’t living up to the image they were featuring.

So good luck, Microsoft. But I’m betting the campaign won’t run its $300,000-dollar course. And not just because of advertising critics voicing opinions as negative as mine (here are a few: Gizmodo, Seeking Alpha, and Crunch Gear.)

No, I believe these “about nothing” episodes are so irrelevant that even Mr. Gates will be embarrassed enough to cut the flow and fire the agency, Crispin Porter + Bogusky.

That’s my opinion. Thanks for reading.

Martin Jelsema

2 thoughts on “Branding Microsoft via Seinfeld’s “show about nothing”

  1. I can see where you are coming from with this but, I have to disagree to an extent.

    I believe that the ad is speaking to personal pc users in general.

    No, they really to relay a specific message but I believe they are doing a good job of re-branding Microsoft to be a personable company which may help regain the trust after Vista.

    Just my $.02.

  2. CJ: You might note that Microsoft has changed the campaign considerably since the Seinfeld ad. The newest commercial fits more with your observation about re-branding to be “more personable”.

    Yet, even with all their resources, as a cynic and realist, I believe commercials are the last step in re-branding. Their product and their service needs to become first-rate first. Then their commercials can point to real accomplishments, not to people who bought PCs and Vista because they didn’t have the experience or the money to buy Apple. (PS: I’m a Microsoft user – XP Pro is my operating system and it’s “OK”.) Martin

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