Posts Tagged 'Seinfeld'

Bill&Jerry “Family” Ad

Microsoft is back with their dreadful Bill&Jerry campaign.

This time, the pair goes to live with a “regular” family in the suburbs, in order to “connect” with “real people”.

“Connection” is what it’s all about, with Microsoft trying to rebrand PC from Personal Computer to Perpetually Connecting.

This ad is as dumb and absurd as the previous one, with Gates at its dullest self and Seinfeld as out of sync as anyone else.

But the funny thing is that, for all the behind the scenes conceptualization about “connection”, what the ad shows us is how Gates and Seinfeld clearly can’t connect with the family.

When playing a pair’s Ping-Pong game, Seinfeld can’t stop blaming the mother for their mishaps (so much for connecting with your partner); Gates bores a kid to death while reading him a goodnight story from what it seems like a software developers’ manual, thus risking causing him permanent emotional trauma.

If you think I’m exaggerating, just imagine having Gates by your bed reading you a story, and you can see what the kid has been put through.

Gates and Seinfeld are the quintessential undesirable guests. If this were to be a TV show – and that is, after all, the all idea, to package the ad as a Seinfelnesque type of TV show – everybody would be rooting for them to be thrown down the well or electrocuted with a toaster in the bath.

In fact, they are so obnoxious that the family’s little girl, fed up with having them squatting in her room, devises a plot to frame them for stealing a vacation’s souvenir. As a result, they endure forced labour and are finally booted out of the house.

So there you go: the company that wants you to think of them as “connecting people”, builds an ad in which the characters can’t really connect with anyone, and are in the end thrown out of the environment in which they strived to enter.

Some would consider this a pretty telltale sign of what’s already going on, as Google consolidates its position in the post-desktop environment and Microsoft lags further and further behind.

What’s beyond me is why Microsoft would want to reinforce this idea.

Incredibly, Microsoft seems not to have anything better to say about its future offerings than Seinfeld’s absurd musings about emails for frogs and websites for goldfishes, which are confirmed by a “robot Gates” trying to dance (a frightful sight).

In the end, as we watch Gates and Seinfeld dragging along their suitcases in their misguided quest to “connect”, asking themselves where they’re headed, we can’t help but wonder: is Microsoft on a road to nowhere?


Seinfeld Microsoft Ad

With their Yahoo money burning in their pockets, Balmer and co. felt they needed to get rid of it, so they they decided to make a splash and throw $300 million in a new advertising campaign.

What the hell, you only live once, and, after what they’ve been through lately, they really needed the ego boost.

It’s, after all, perfectly understandable. Just put yourself in their position: Vista was a let down, Yahoo blatantly rejected them, Google keeps getting all the attention, and Apple is more and more entrenched in its cooler than cool status. I mean, that’s enough to depress any one, even a tough guy like Balmer. It’s like nobody loves them.

To address this urge for love, Microsoft recruited Seinfeld, hoping that his vacuous type of humor would help the brand get into consumers hearts, and not just their desktops.

It all must have seemed to work fine on the paper: you want to get close to consumers and trash the loathed behemoth image, so you make a YouTube-like kind of video, exploring the new trends in Consumer Generated Media (CGM).

Humor is a sure way to get close, so you recruit one of the best known comedians, and you pay him a king’s ransom ($10 million, no less) to work his magic on the brand.

You even throw in the recently retired Gates to add weight to the claim that Microsoft isn’t the matrix, but a company for guys “just like you”.

So, what’s the problem? Well, just about everything.

If you make a YouTube kind of film, you must know that all hangs on the copy – and the copy here is almost nonexistent. The storyline goes like this: Seinfeld is strolling along in a mall; he sees Bill Gates buying shoes at a discount store; he gets in and helps him try the shoes; they leave together as they muse about the future of computers.

Note that only at the last third of the ad there is some reference to computers, the claim being that Microsoft has its eye on the future of computers (at discount prices, one would presume).

This could all be excused if the ad was funny; well, it isn’t. Gates is just about the dullest guy in the world, and it’s painstaking to watch him trying to interact with Seinfeld in a humorous way.

And that is the other problem. It was considered a good idea to show Gates behaving like a regular guy, true to his nerd roots, despite being one of the richest guys in the world. We even get to watch a photo of a young Gates in a member card for the discount store, which is something nobody in their right mind would ever want to do. And if that wasn’t enough to scare you, you get rewarded at the end with an unforgettable image of Gates shaking his bum. Really, if it were in Halloween, he’d be filled with treats.

And that’s just the thing: it’s NOT a good idea to parade Gates (much less being “himself”), because nobody wants to relate with him. Even the nerds don’t want to be the Gates-type of nerd – they may be “nerds”, but they still want to be hype. That’s why Steve Jobs has a cult. That’s why Gates, despite all his good deeds and Time covers, doesn’t, and never will.

So, instead of an ad that feeds on the new trends and connects to the new consumers, you end up with something that seems like a homemade video from the nineties, showing a nerd and a not-so-funny guy, both from back then, buying shoes at a discount store and talking about edible computers (certainly the way of the future).

Really, could it be any worse?

July 2019
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