An awful lot has been written about the Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Gates ads which have aired the US of late. And seeing as they’ve been analysed almost out of existence, I don’t feel the need to engage in further analysis of them myself. Well, not too much.
If you’ve no idea what I’m talking about – if you don’t immediately recognise what the word ‘Conquistador’ refers to in the context of this conversation – you can check out the previous two ads here and here. Then again, if you’ve already lost me, this probably isn’t your bag anyway.
Anyway, for what it’s worth, I like the approach Microsoft and their PR agency, Crispin Porter & Bogusky, have taken here. It’s clever, measured and, as time passes, I think will prove much more effective than hard-sell techniques. But I will say this: by airing these ads Microsoft have at long last responded the barrage of (often blatantly unfounded) insults directed at them via the Apple switcher ads. And that was the biggest miss Microsoft have made in the promotion of Vista – by letting the torrent of largely unjustified negative press get so far out of hand.
The ads, of course, are just the opening shots in a much longer campaign pitched at ‘personalising’ Microsoft, ‘humanising’ Windows and dispelling some of the FUD relating to Vista. And make no mistake, Microsoft are taking this seriously, throwing some $300 million behind the project which started with the equally contentious Mojave experiment early in the summer.
What’s clear, then, is that this is a big, multi-faceted project and that Microsoft isn’t trying to directly hard-sell anything via these ads. Instead, their message is much more subtle – so subtle, in fact, that the oft-heard response to the first two ads has been: “what’s that all about?” Nevertheless, such an approach is perfect for planting seeds in the minds of the purchasing public about the quality and versatility of Microsoft products - something that will remain there for a long time to come.
And that’s another point. Simply because the approaches adopted by Microsoft in this campaign are so contentious – that they have provoked such a fury of debate and opinion – is proof that the tactic has worked. It’s got people talking, and thinking at long last about Microsoft products and to steal a phrase from the Guardian, “it’s reignited consumer excitement about the broader value of Windows”.
And with this 3rd ad, Microsoft are responding – brilliantly in my opinion – to the questionable “I’m a Mac, I’m a PC” ads that have been so successfully aired by Apple at Microsoft’s expense. Instead of the petulant sniping nature of Apple’s approach, whose insecurity prompts them to disparage their competition, Microsoft merely showcases just how rich and varied the existing Windows user-base is. It points to the Windows ecosystem that’s thriving out there in the real world comprising of over 1 billion people doing anything and everything from every walk of life.
With this approach, Microsoft are hitting back at their critics without needing to lower themselves in the gutter like Apple have done. As I said, brilliant.