Perhaps we’ll all be wearing dunce caps when a year from now Microsoft releases the first edible computer, moist and chewy like cake.? But, all in all, Microsoft’s latest ad campaign is a misfire.
And it’s because Bill Gates doesn’t get it.? He never really has.? Sure, he’s the third richest man in the world.? Sure, he’s been followed and hailed as the most well known, quintessential computer geek entrepreneur since the late 1970s.? Sure, the Windows operating system is installed on more computers around the world now than any other – outnumbering their leading competitor, Apple, by about 80%.? But, when it comes to marketing his ideas, his products, his livelihood – Bill Gates doesn’t get it.
For a few years now, Microsoft, although continuing to lead the market share with their Windows operating system, has been feeling the pressure from Apple.? And that pressure can be directly attributed to the manner in which Apple has marketed and branded itself.? Their “I’m a Mac.? And I’m a PC.” advertisement campaign is now one of the most recognizable spots and spans television, web-based advertising, and even live enactments of Justin Long’s and John Hodgman’s anthropomorphized shtick.? And why?? Because Apple knows Bill Gates, and subsequently Microsoft, doesn’t get it.? Apple uses their advertisements to exemplify just that.? Apple, instead of attempting to explain how well they do get it, can simply deride Microsoft about how much they don’t.? It’s a beautifully woven web of negative advertising, positive propaganda, and pandering to the (already) Mac faithful.
So, since 2006, Microsoft has had plenty of time to craft the perfect rebuttal.? The perfectly forged blade to cut through the web.? Right?? Well, not exactly.
September marked the launch of Microsoft’s newest ad campaign featuring their former, fearless leader Bill Gates and comedian Jerry Seinfeld – shoe shopping.? Yes.? Shoe shopping.? While walking through the mall, Jerry (with churro in hand) happens upon good ol’ Bill in a shoe store.? From there, Jerry, an expert on all things footwear, helps this billionaire to fit his foot properly into just the right shoe.? Sounds more like an episode of Seinfeld than a multi-million dollar advertising campaign, doesn’t it?? Well, you’d be just about right had you answered with a confused, “Huh?”? This $300 million advertising venture makes nary a mention of Microsoft, Windows, or computing at all save for Jerry’s wanting quip for an upcoming computer that’s “moist and chewy like cakes.”? Oh, and don’t forget the Bill Gates butt wiggle.? As if we all weren’t confused enough.
For those curious, here is what the ad should have been saying to you:? Microsoft is venturing into retail stores by hiring gurus who will be available to help you, the wandering consumer, choose your next, great, perfect PC.? These gurus, an obvious mimicry of Apple’s geniuses, are supposed to act as Jerry acted with Bill – as a resource of information and a helping hand.? Was that so hard to say, Microsoft?? Clarity through advertising, this is not.
Now, perhaps I’ve been a bit harsh on Mr. Gates and Microsoft.? This is only the first ad in the series, after all.? It may make sense come time for the release of the second, third, fourth spot.? But one just can’t side-step the truth that this advertisement is, sadly, the very example of Microsoft’s lack of connection with their audience.? It, in fact, may be an exemplification that they simply don’t know who their audience is – and haven’t for some time.
But at least the future looks delicious!? Right?