Microsoft to trot out Bill Gates and enlist Mac user Jerry Seinfeld to shill Windows Vista in ads

“Microsoft Corp., weary of being cast as a stodgy oldster by Apple Inc.’s advertising, is turning for help to Jerry Seinfeld,” Suzanne Vranica and Robert A. Guth report for The Wall Street Journal.

MacDailyNews Take: Is this the same Jerry Seinfeld whose eponymous television series basically chronicled the history of Apple Macs on Jerry’s apartment desk?

Apple’s 1997 “Think Different” ad featuring Jerry Seinfeld which aired only once during the series finale of Seinfeld:

Vranica and Guth continue, “The software giant’s new $300 million advertising campaign, devised by a newly hired ad agency, has been closely guarded. But Mr. Seinfeld will be one of the key celebrity pitchmen, say people close to the situation. He will appear with Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates in ads and receive about $10 million for the work, they say.”

MacDailyNews Take: How about spending $300 million to create an OS that isn’t a derivative, counterintuitive, bloated, spaghetti-coded mess?

Vranica and Guth continue, “The new ad effort is expected to use some variation of the slogan ‘Windows, Not Walls,’ according to several people familiar with the matter. Those people say the point is to stress breaking down barriers that prevent people and ideas from connecting. The campaign, said to debut Sept. 4, is one of the largest in the company’s history.”

MacDailyNews Take: Total debacles require massive ad campaigns to sway the weak-minded, it would seem. One question: In a world without fences and walls, who needs Gates and Windows?

Vranica and Guth continue, “The attempted image overhaul comes as Microsoft executives privately acknowledge that Windows — the company’s most important brand — has grown stale and has been battered by Apple’s ‘Mac vs. PC’ ads.”

MacDailyNews Note: Just an FYI: They’re actually called “Get a Mac” ads, not “Mac vs. PC” ads.

Vranica and Guth continue, “Microsoft’s immediate goal is to reverse the negative public perception of Windows Vista, the latest version of the company’s personal-computer operating system.”

MacDailyNews Take: Then they’re going to need way more than $300 million. Windows. It is your father’s OS.

Vranica and Guth continue, “The software has sold well…”

MacDailyNews Take: Who, besides Microsoft, says Vista has sold well? Please see these related articles:
• State of the Art? Nearly 35% of new PCs have Vista replaced with ancient Windows XP – August 19, 2008
• Forrester: Microsoft’s ill-fated Windows Vista rejected like ‘new Coke’ by enterprises – July 31, 2008
• HP: Microsoft counting XP-loaded PCs as ‘Vista’ sales – July 30, 2008
• Survey: Windows Vista adoption weakens as IT pros eye Apple Macintosh – July 29, 2008
• Microsoft discounts Windows Vista – February 29, 2008

Vranica and Guth continue, “While Apple’s digs at Microsoft through its advertising campaign have been vexing, Apple is on a hot streak with its products that Microsoft hasn’t been able to match… During the second quarter, Apple said it sold 41% more Macs than it did during the same period the prior year; that compares with growth of 15.3% in total PC shipments world-wide, according to IDC. Apple’s desktop and notebook computers have won converts among onetime Windows loyalists.”

Vranica and Guth report, “For its new campaign, Microsoft also considered a range of other famous personalities, including comedians Will Ferrell and Chris Rock, according to people familiar with the matter.”

MacDailyNews Take: Good choices. Chris Rock is a noted user of multiple Apple iPods and Will Ferrell…

Full article here.

Read also: “Microsoft Ad Team: We’ll Sell Vista, But We’re Using Macs,” by Peter Kafka, Silicon Alley Insider, August 21, 2008

Also of interest: “Seinfeld. A classic gets desperate. Groundbreaking sitcom has fallen so far off the cultural radar that it’s luring viewers on a bus,” by Joel Rubinoff, The Toronto Stars, August 21, 2008


  1. Mac is going to eat MS’ lunch on this one. Seinfeld had his day — but this isn’t it. Many young buyers of computers probably don’t even know who he is. Besides I think he’s too nice a guy to make much of difference. Mac is on the rise and there’s not much MS (or Jerry) can do about it — except get better, which I doubt wil happen.

  2. Wait, wait, wait: Microsoft’s idea is to change their image from “oldster” to something hip and young…. and they pick an over-the-hill comedian in his 50s, and Bill Gates as their pitch men?!

    Talk about a comedy routine! The “wow” just keeps on coming….

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  3. Oh yeah. Famous Personalities tell me what to do all the time. I hear their voices in my head all day long. They’re so believable. I trust those people with my life. Why not? They have lots of money and are so famous, they must know what they’re talking about. I think I even saw on some documentary on the TruthVision (TV) that one of them was a doctor at one time. That must mean they’re smart, right?

    MW: morning, as in I haven’t had my morning can of Coke yet

  4. Having seen what a flop the Mojave experiment was, it will be amusing to see how this one pans out.

    ‘Windows, not walls’ seems like a perverse tag line for a company that has established it’s reputation for building walls and attempting to undermine open standards. It looks destined to backfire on them.

  5. One again MDN is blurring reality with fantasy. Just because Seinfield had Mac’s in his on-set room as props, doesn’t make him a Mac user. If you think that everyone in a movie or TV episode where Mac’s are present on-set, your sadly mistaken.

    I just take issue with the blatant bending of the truth in the headline.

    Past that, it is possible that Jerry actually does use Mac’s in his private life, but don’t you think MS would choose someone who uses Windows for this campaign instead?

    I ALSO think this is bound to fail. Seinfield has been off the air for years, tho in syndication just about everywhere I’m sure. The whole approach just seems old and tired, boring, and reaching for the lowest common denominator… This won’t be great advertising.

    MDW word = doing…. MDW what are you doing with these misleading headlines?

  6. What’s the best way to push your failing OS on a leery public?

    Hire a couple of has-beens … a charming retiree and a rumored “comedian” (and Mac user) as your front men?

    Who exactly are they supposed to appeal to?
    The tattoo and piercing crowd?
    The goatee and funny glasses crowd?
    The walker and Depends crowd?
    Both these guys are in their mid-fifties with the combined appeal of roadkill.
    How are these guys supposed to inspire confidence in a bad product?

    I suppose their coolness and urbanity will simply overwhelm the Windows using masses. Huge lines will suddenly form outside every CompUSA store in North America, clamoring to get their very own copy of Vista.

    Oh, wait, CompUSA is out of business.

    What’s Microsoft going to do for the next five or six years or until Windows 7 appears? Hey, that’ll be 12 years of XP.

    Yeah, I got it! Bill and Jerry will save the day!

    They might be better off dressing Ballmer as Bozo and have him do magic tricks. Hell, he’s already pulling off the illusion of the decade:
    CEO of world’s largest software empire.

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