So you're Microsoft, and you've been getting your ass kicked in the ad wars with Mac (well, OK, they target PCs, but it's really about you isn't it?) and now Google has stepped up with a much hyped browser as a direct challenge to your dominance in that area. So you need to fight back fast.
How do you do it?
You can't really go at your competition too hard, you're the frontrunner after all and are already perceived as a big meanie. The first step is to remake your image. That makes sense. Right now, you're looked at as a fading 90s powerhouse who was once on the cutting edge but now is the very image of the tired boring establishment abhorred by younger consumers you're hoping to attract.
So, to help you change this image you bring in....Jerry Seinfeld?
Isn't he the Microsoft of the comedy, sitting on his vast piles of money while not having done anything worth noting since 1998?
OK OK, so maybe these things don't always work according to that kind of logic, I can buy that. But why spend the gazillions of dollars it must have taken to sign Jerry Seinfeld to produce this commercial:
I mean that's atrocious. Jerry still can't act and is tossing out half-hearted lines from Seinfeld (except, bizzarely, he's playing Kramer in this commercial). Bill Gates isn't even that funny, and seems like an old retired guy puttering around a mall in Palm Beach. At the end they say something about the future, but the commercial feels like you're watching two has-beens, away from the exciting places that made them famous, with nothing better to do than screw around in a mall for a few hous.
Look, if they were going to go for nostalgia humor, how much more would it have cost to get George, err, I mean, Jason Alexander and pair him with Jerry for the commercial? (And how much more memorable would that commercial have been?) But really, don't you think they needed to go somewhere different with this?
Look at the hugely successful Mac advertisements. On the one hand there's the cute Mac vs. PC ads, which manage to be vicious without seeming vicious:
And then there's the brilliant ITunes/IPod ads:
How much better are those than the crap Microsoft put out? Microsoft is a company that is worth billions and billions of dollars, and I think what literally happened when they considered remaking their image was a 15 minute board meeting where they talked about golf for 14 minutes, and at the end said, "Hey! Let's pay 5 million dollars to get Jerry Seinfeld, we'll send him and Bill out together. Let's see what happens!"
If they wanted to soften Bill Gates, and, therefore, Microsoft why not just have him tell a story about something important that happened early on at Microsoft, something about the joy of discovery or innovation? If they wanted a nostalgic commercial, why not do something like showing someone someone who is now like 30 using Microsoft over the years as he gets older? If you really wanted to do a "future" commercial, why not do something in the same "cool" vein as Apple's stuff? Their choice just made no sense. Corporations can be so silly sometimes.