Virtuous cycle

Bartlomiej Owczarek weblog

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I think Microsoft products are pollution, but I like #2 ad

Latest ad with Gates and Seinfeld (they paid Seinfeld $10m to participate… I try to imagine how much they would pay to air an ad that long):

I’m quite alone in being positive about the ad.

Techcrunch: “I’m starting to feel bad for Microsoft PR, who’ve been tasked with defending these Microsoft ads featuring Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld.”

Wired: “feels a bit like an aimless sitcom pilot at 4.5 minutes with little mention of Microsoft”, “It’s hard to see how this set up is going to portray Microsoft’s products in a positive light”

All about Microsoft: “the latest Microsoft consumer-focused ad does little, if anything, to endear Microsoft or Windows to consumers”

Everyone complains that clips make no mention of Microsoft products. And that they even create self-inflicted damage by portraying Microsoft (personified by Gates) as out of touch with real people.

In fact that’s why I like the ads. I don’t see how Microsoft could win direct confrontation with “mac vs pc” campaign. Pushing Vista marketing would be like putting lipstick on a pig. It’s hard to imagine convincing people that it’s an inspiring product – through an ad.

I think what they can achieve with the ads is humanizing Microsoft’s image. It can only be done with a real person in the spotlight, and they selected Gates for the role, which seems a good (only?) choice. Gates symbolizes the evil empire, is not known for being entertaining or social (which adds element of surprise and creates buzz around ads) and making him likable will affect image of all Microsoft.

How to make Gates likable?

“We like people who are not perfect and make mistakes”. I thought it was out of Cialdini’s persuasion handbook, but I can’t find the exact quote.

In the end, Apple’s marketing might start to seem arrogant and snobbish, now that people begin to sympathize with awkward – but human – Gates.