Exclusive: The Seinfeld/Ballmer TV Ads We Didn’t Get to See

Developers, developers, developers, developers!

By  |  Saturday, September 13, 2008 at 8:45 pm

I know I’ve written about this before, and I don’t mean to harp, but to me the most interesting thing about the new Windows ad campaign is not that it costars Jerry Seinfeld, but that it costars Bill Gates. It was only slightly over two months ago that Gates retired from Microsoft with a barrage of nostalgic fanfare. I kind of thought that his departure would initiate a changing of the guard that would involve him stepping back as the public face of the company after thirty-three years.

It wasn’t that I thought we’d never see him represent Microsoft again…just that he might take a breather and let Steve Ballmer, Ray Ozzie, or other execs step into the spotlight, as it were. They may not represent a fresh new face for Microsoft, but they’re the guys who are responsible for the company’s present and future. (Gates may be unshakably synonymous with Microsoft, but he also represents its past.)

So when the news about Seinfeld/Gates broke, my first thought was this: What if the ads had costarred Seinfeld and Steve Ballmer? It wasn’t such a crazy thought–the man is, after all, the CEO of the company, and he’s anything but shy and retiring. And then it hit me: Thanks to the miracle of modern video technology, I didn’t have to wonder about Seinfeld/Ballmer Windows commercials. With enough painstaking effort, I could create a reconstruction that would reveal with uncanny precision what such ads would have looked and sounded like.

So I did:

There you go. A few conclusions:

–I’m sorta fond of Steve Ballmer–he is who he is, and he’s the anti-Steve Jobs for sure–but he’s so noisy and rambunctious that I must respectfully say that I’m glad I don’t live in the same house with him.

–I have trouble seeing Ballmer having been involved in any Microsoft campaign that involved intentional soft-selling, a la the Gates/Seinfeld ads as they were actually made. He’d have been shamelessly Microsoft and Windows from the get-go. I’m not sure that that isn’t preferable to the ads we got.

–I admire Ray Ozzie and wish him well at Microsoft, but based on what little readily available video there is of him, it’s probably just as well he’s not in the campaign.

–There’s probably some alternate universe in which the ads costarred Seinfeld and another Steve: Mr. Jobs. I’m too intimidated to try and reconstruct what those spots would have looked like, but would welcome contributions from other researchers.

–Once you’ve heard Ballmer do his “developers, developers, developers, developers” chant, it takes from three to six months to shake it out of your head.

A final thought: Microsoft keeps saying that the ads we’ve seen are merely conversation starters, and that we can’t judge the campaign until we’ve seen more of the commercials. I take that to mean that we can still reasonably hold out hope that we could see a spot with Ballmer smashing through a wall Kool-Aid Man style, scaring the bejezus out of Jerry Seinfeld, brandishing a stack of boxed copies of Windows, and bellowing a sales pitch. If nothing else, it would tie into the “Windows, Not Walls” tagline that we haven’t seen yet .

And hey–even if Microsoft hasn’t already filmed such an ad, it’s not too late…


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1 Comments For This Post

  1. David Gerard Says:

    It doesn’t necessarily have to be Seinfeld either: http://tinyurl.com/5c3r6y

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