Microsoft Kills Seinfeld - a.k.a $10M down the drain.

the Denver egotist shares gossip from Valleywag.

In a phone call, Waggener Edstrom flack Frank Shaw confirms that Microsoft is not going on with Seinfeld, and echoes his underlings’ spin that the move was planned. There is the “potential to do other things” with Seinfeld, which Shaw says is still “possible.” He adds: “People would have been happier if everyone loved the ads, but this was not unexpected.”

What the...? OK, so the 90-second Shoe Circus advert and the near five-minute spoof on "the simple life" New Family commercial were not exactly universally loved. Manye hated it, including Leslie at Burns Auto Parts who summed it up with "Just because someone spends a ton of money on a promo, doesn’t mean it is any good.". This attracted some CP&B employee who rushed to defend their campaign in the (now removed) comments:

Author : Jeep

Had the first Microsoft ad been about the  features of Microsoft products or Vista, no one would have watched or cared. After Apple's Mac vs. PC campaign, and after MS's very public Vista perception problems, Microsoft had a tough challenge. For starters it has to start a new conversation and reintroduce folks to Microsoft - on a very basic and humanized level. In that regard I think the campaign (so far)  is a home run. Is it odd? Yes. Was that key to getting people to sit up and listen? Probably. 

Here are two articles that are good rebuttals to your analysis Leslie:

From PC World -
"... the campaign embraces the 'uncool' tag that Apple has thrust upon them, and that alone makes them much cooler than self-proclaimed coolness. ... if you were to take this commercial's message at face value, you'd believe that Microsoft will soon be coming out with a delicious, cakelike computer. The inherent absurdity hints that consumers should take all commercials with a grain of salt and encourages them to examine things more deeply."

From Cnet -
... the Seinfeld ad did exactly what it needed to do: it took the focus off Gates' money, Vista's problems, and Microsoft's poor public image, and started erecting a more positive image of the company, which will eventually allow it to promote its products. ... I'm willing to bet that if this commercial was released by Apple, those same people saying the Seinfeld ad was a misstep would be calling it a triumph of "1984" proportions.

That comments sheds some light on the initial though, "embrace the uncool", which is hipster cool, in a way. But Leslie, still not convinced stuck to her guns and got this reply:
Author : Jeep

"I've seen the second one and I still think the whole campaign sucks"

Given the damaged brand, how else would YOU have tried to introduce the world to Microsoft again?  

I think doing something outrageous is smart.  The only way the conversation was going to change was to create a space that allows for a otal 180 degree departure from where Vista's problems  and Apple had taken MS. 

Everyone (including us) is talking about Microsoft again. The second ad has had something like 800,000 views on YouTube, with an average rating of 4 out of 5 starts. How can you argue with that? A VIsta "features" ad would never generate that much buzz. As they say, "What's worse than being talked negatively about? Not being talked about at all."

Time will tell if this campaign is successful. Given the crazy challenge with the MS brand,  I think it's off to a pretty good start.

Beginning to sound rather defensive, did Jeep already know about Seinfeld sitting loose? At this point Leslie outed that these comments came from and as such, weren't exactly impartial, and to her felt deceptive since Jeep never says he is working at CP+B.

Author : Jeep

Too funny. Just because the comment came from a CPB server doesn't mean I'm speaking on behalf of anyone other than myself. I had nothing to do with the campaign, I was offering my opinion.

I thought the comments were completely appropriate. And I wasn't "pretending to just be somebody." 

But I'm sure you'll delete this too.

If what Valleywag says is true, is this sudden departure really planned? Now I'm really curious to see where they might go next. Hidden camera ads a la "I can't believe it's Vista" Whopper freakout? No wait they did that already with the Mojave Experiment. A "Subservient Gates" viral? Hitmoms forcing peoole to switch back to PC's? Your guess is as good as mine, folks. Here's the only thing that I like about this campaign (so far) it's keeping me guessing and I guess that counts for something, even though I would never touch Vista unless I was paid big money (perhaps $10M) to do so. I'm not, and will never be the target market anyway, so they're not aiming to get me onboard, they're trying to get computer users like my mother back. But she'll use whatever I tell her to use (I even made her install Linux on her old laptop by helping her over the phone a few years back, before I bought her a Mac) so I guess they do need to get to me first then. Oh poor CP+B, you really have a tough job.

Next up - Pharell Williams and Eva Longoria? All signs (and the NYT) point to yes.

Comments (3)

  • Neo's picture

    They killed the Sienfield campaign? too soon! it was just getting interesting to see what they might do next!

    Sep 18, 2008
  • purplesimon's picture

    Think about it: Microsoft makes something that people don't like so they bury it. It doesn't matter if it's an OS or an ad. So it seems.

    I watched the second part and actually found myself intrigued. I wanted to see what came next. Even though I'll only ever use their software in the workplace when I can't use my own laptop. :)

    Sep 18, 2008
  • Neo's picture

    You're right, it is very much their modus operandi.

    Sep 18, 2008

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Dabitch Creative Director, CEO, hell-raising sweetheart and editor of Adland. Globetrotting Swede who has lived and worked in New York, London, San Francisco, Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Stockholm.