The Simple Life: Gates and Seinfeld, the Hilton and Richie of Tech
The appeal of Fox’s reality show, “The Simple Life,” may have eluded you and me, but it has clearly struck a chord with Microsoft and its new ad agency, Crispin Porter + Bogusky, which seems to view Microsoft chairman Bill Gates and comedian Jerry Seinfeld as the Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie of tech. To wit, “New Family,” the second spot in the CP+B-produced campaign for Microsoft (MSFT), which features Gates and Seinfeld moving in with a family of “real people” and connecting with them.
Like the first ad in the campaign, “Shoe Circus,” this spot clearly isn’t intended to pitch anything. It’s meant to redeem and recondition Microsoft’s public image, which has been turned into a joke by Apple’s (AAPL) persistent and devastating mockery. Consider Cupertino’s latest “Get a Mac” ad in which John Hodgeman’s PC character presents a faux editorial, “Stop Switching to Mac!,” on Time.com, NYTimes.com and elsewhere.
How do you respond to something like that?
Perhaps by showing folks that you’re a market leader that’s not quite as stodgy as they’ve been lead to believe. “Just as somebody might tell a joke to lighten up a room or get somebody’s attention before changing gears, these first ads were designed to tap people on the shoulder and say, ‘Excuse me. We’re back and we’d love a few moments of your time,’ Windows Director Chris Flores explains. “Will seeing Bill and Jerry enjoy each other’s company make people run out and buy a new laptop? Or correct misperceptions some non-users might have about Windows Vista? Certainly not. We’d be crazy to think they would. That’s why we’re continuing the Mojave Experiment ads. That’s their job. And they do their job simply by giving people who’ve never done so an excuse to check out Windows Vista for themselves. But this campaign, when fully unveiled, will talk about Windows in all its forms. Not just the OS for PCs we happen to be shipping today. In fact, not just an OS. And not just on PCs. Simply put, this campaign isn’t about Windows Vista. It’s about Windows. That might not be what some folks were/are expecting. And it might be hard to believe given what you’ve seen so far. But remember, we have gone on record saying the broader campaign will ‘tell the Windows story’ and we intend to judge its success on that basis. In that light I think it’s pretty safe to conclude we don’t expect the little logo at the end of these spots to do all that work by itself.”