Saturday, September 6, 2008

Microsoft Is About Nothing?

Microsoft finally decided that they needed to come up with some catchy advertising. You know, in light of the Google and the Apple that are taking over the world. Granted, the Google boys don't need advertising (they've already infiltrated our brains somehow and reprogrammed them to always search with Google). And Apple, well, Apple has the Mac vs. PC ads which are hilarious. Those are going to be hard to beat. Microsoft was thinking the same thing. After all, the Apple ads are hip, they're cool, they're funny, they're new, they're relevant AND they make sense. You're going to need some pretty powerful ammunition to go up against a formula like the one that Apple thought up. And how hard could that really be? I mean, their idea was just to have two guys SAY that they were computers and we, the oh-so skeptical public, would just believe them! (How stupid do they think we are? Oh. Right. Never mind.) How are you going to top THAT?

Well, Microsoft didn't just get to the top by accident. No, Microsoft got to the top because it was the only computer operating system out there that didn't suck when it was founded. (And when I say "only" I mean "the best one out of the two that were available at the time". Hey, take what you can get, I always say.) That aside, they came up with an advertising campaign that they must have been positive would be a winner. They forked over $300 million for it, in case you were wondering how certain they were about their idea. And who were they entrusting to be the face of this campaign? Who was it that was going to represent "new" and "hip" and "cool", three things that Microsoft is not always associated with? Who? Why, Jerry Seinfeld, that's who. Wait. What?

Jerry Seinfeld? OK, look, I loved "Seinfeld". I loved Jerry. And the whole gang! But even though "Seinfeld" ran for nine years and was one of the highest rated shows in TV history, the last episode aired on May 14, 1998. That's over ten years ago. Microsoft hired Jerry Seinfeld? Geez. What? Was Milton Berle not available? That doesn't seem very "cool, hip and new" if you're asking me.

You know what else doesn't seem very "cool, hip and new"? That's right, the first commercial starring Jerry Seinfeld and none other than Bill Gates as well. Now, a lot of people are sadly unaware that Bill Gates is a very funny guy. Extremely funny. He is also a fairly decent actor. And that's a "fairly decent actor" that is only partially being compared to other geeky, tech-y software guys. Gates is a "fairly decent actor" when compared to a lot of people. But even a freaking great actor couldn't have done much with this story line...and it was a minute and a half! Ninety seconds of complete confusion. I wondered if maybe they had accidentally aired some of the stuff that they decided wouldn't be any good. (If they didn't, they might want to think about saying that they did. You know, to avoid looking any more like jackasses.)

Now, the premise of Jerry Seinfeld's show was that it was "a show about nothing". This is "a commercial about nothing". It's the exact same premise. You watch it. You are expecting something to happen. Nothing does. There is talking. It's about nothing. Next thing you know, the damn thing is over and you don't know what you've just seen! The only difference between the commercial and Jerry's show was that when the show was over, you knew that whatever it was you just watched, you enjoyed. With the commercial? Eh, not so much. Here, you can see for yourself how lame it is.

Basically, Jerry is walking through a mall, mall-fare churro in hand, when he spots Bill buying shoes at Shoe Circus discount shoes. He runs inside and ends up helping fit Bill for a pair of "pleather" shoes known as "the Conquistador". He has to get a size larger than 10 because in the Conquistador, "they run tight". And for some reason, it seems as though that nugget of information is either well known or important in some unknown way as we witness a Hispanic family staring through the window, watching this shoe fitting taking place and knowing that it's The Conquistador and that "they run tight." They seem either very interested or very concerned. One of those. Or they just wonder where he got the oh-so tasty churro.

Bill buys his pleather Conquistadors and presents his Shoe Circus Clown Card at checkout. While walking out to the parking lot, they basically use dialogue from a Seinfeld episode where Jerry asks Elaine what she gets if she fills her submarine punch card up and she responds, "Free sub." It was the same, except that Jerry asked Bill what he got with his Clown Card and he responded "Clown points." You know, for $300 million, I think I'd have to ask for original material, but that could just be me.

Then, still walking through the parking lot, both munching churros, Jerry asks Bill if our computers will be "moist and chewy like cake, so we can just eat while we're working." Bill doesn't respond, so Jerry tries again with, "If it's yes, give me a signal. Adjust your shorts or something." Cue the camera shot from behind as they're still walking. It is then that we see Bill do a little booty shake and just keep right on walking as Jerry does the lower fist pump and cries out, "I knew it!" Then cut to the Microsoft logo. The end. Wait. What? The WHAT?! END?

Correct. The end. That's it. No products. No hype. No hint. Just two guys and one of them has a wedgie. I don't even think that you even saw a computer at all in the whole thing! Am I supposed to run out and buy a churro? I'm so confused.

I can't imagine that's all they got for $300 million. And while I'm not holding by breath in anticipation of the next commercial that, perhaps, sheds some light on WTF is going on here, I would like to see more. At the very least, I'd like to see something else because that ad was crappier than Windows ME.

Look, I know Bill Gates is a smart guy. And I know he's a smart guy who hires other smart guys. I just hope he was smart enough to hire smart advertising people. Because really, the way I'm looking at this right now, I'm not so sure if associating "Microsoft" with "My underwear are riding up my ass" is really the direction you want to go in. (It's certainly not the direction you want your underwear to go in.)

SIDE NOTE: Bill Gates is a great guy and he, along with his wife, have founded The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which is a spectacular organization doing charity work to help reduce inequity around the world.

SIDE NOTE 2: That picture of Bill Gates on his Clown Club Card? Yeah, that's his mugshot photo from when he was arrested on reckless driving charges on December 13, 1977 for a second time in New Mexico after speeding in his Porsche, running a stop sign and driving without a license. I find it amusing.

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