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Random Thoughts About the Second Gates/Seinfeld Windows Ad

I swear that I’m going to stop writing about these Bill Gates-Jerry Seinfeld Microsoft ads soon. Or at least I hope so. The second ad in the series has aired, and not only is it even more dramatically odd than the first one–it also feels like it’s about seventy-five minutes long:

A few quick thoughts on it:

–the ad seems to say quite explicitly that Bill Gates is an enormously wealthy man who has trouble bonding with normal folks. It’s at least superficially in jest, but I can’t quite tell if there’s an implicit acknowledgment there that Microsoft’s reputation among its customers could be a lot better.

–quirky though the spot may be, it feels like it has a touch of the patronizing “Your Potential. Our Passion” tone that I associate with Microsoft advertising. It’s full of little people! With hopes and dreams just like yours and mine! Who are honored by a visit from the founder of Microsoft!

–Like the first ad, this one segues into a slightly harder sell at the end: Jerry helpfully reminds Bill that the latter has “connected over a billion people,” presumably to get TV watchers thinking positive thoughts about Microsoft’s place in the world. Kinda odd to make it that personal, though–does that mean that when my PC bluescreens, I should hold Bill personally responsible?

–At the end of the commercial, the phrase “Perpetually Connecting” turns into the abbreviation “PC.” I can’t think of another ad in recent Microsoft history that’s made reference to Windows-based computers as PCs–it feels like an almost direct response to Apple’s Get a Mac ads and their Mac and PC characters. I wonder if future ads will also call PCs PCs. (Actually, I hope not: I used to be a stickler for the notion that all personal computers, including Macs, are PCs; I’ve sort of given up, though.)

–When word broke that the $300 million Windows ad campaign would star Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Gates, everybody and their brother (including, well, me) squawked that Microsoft was showing it was out of touch by signing an aging comedian whose glory days were more than a decade ago. After watching this ad, it looks like maybe it was all intentional–Bill and Jerry are proudly, aggressively middle-aged and unhip in this spot.

Over at All About Microsoft, Mary Jo Foley has some more thoughts and facts about the ad. She says an ad that’s more traditionally about Windows will be along shortly. One can only hope…


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