Sunday, September 7, 2008

Where Don't You Want To Go Today?

Not that I was looking for vindication or anything, but it's nice to know that I wasn't the only one who thought that Microsoft's ad with Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Gates (munching churros after shopping for pleather, size 10 Conquistador shoes at Shoe Circus) was absolutely, positively craptastic. What's not nice to know is that some people actually enjoyed it. Those are people who will believe the hype about anything. It doesn't matter what it is, if it's hyped enough before it actually happens, then to a certain group of people (the soft-headed, the gullible, Floridians, etc.) it will be the most amazing thing that they have ever seen. I blame those guys who made The Blair Witch Project. Duped the whole damn country with that promo.

But back to Tom Bill and Jerry. After the 90-second craptacular had aired, so many people were scratching their heads and thinking, "WTF was that?" that Microsoft released a statement that was supposed to explain WTF that was. And while it did explain WTF is was, it did not do a very good job of explaining WTF they were thinking. (Remember: $300 million in advertising for an ad campaign where one of the ads ends with Bill Gates shaking his tuckus like a geeky rabbit. That being said, I think that "WTF were they thinking?" is a totally appropriate question.)

(By the way, if you're expecting this explanation to be some sort of revelation, you're going to be really disappointed.)

The statement from Microsoft starts out with, "....some may wonder what Jerry Seinfeld helping Bill Gates pick out a new pair of shoes has to do with software. (SOME? You think only some were wondering that? No wonder you guys need help.) The answer, in the classic Seinfeld sense of the word, is nothing. (Wait. What?) Nevertheless, the spot is the first and most visible sign of an ambitious effort by Microsoft’s Windows business to reconnect with consumers around the globe." Um, huh. Well, I don't rightly know what to say about that. Other than, are you freaking kidding me?!

Picking out the shoes has nothing to do with software, but "nevertheless" it's the first sign that you are trying to reconnect with people? So, it doesn't matter what "the sign" is, as long as we know that you mean well, that's good enough? I've got news for you, Microsoft. It's not good enough. It's not even good. And I think we've had enough. Please tell us you've blown through that $300 million already so we won't have to be subjected to more of this ridiculousness. No such luck.

The statement from Microsoft is rather long. I'm thinking that if they had made their commercial about something instead of nothing, they wouldn't need a statement. I thought that's what the ad was supposed to do...make a statement. But apparently all the ad is supposed to do is cause people to get online (probably with their Mac) and try to figure out WTF they just saw. Completely opposite of most of the ads that I see. They're usually self explanatory and don't need CliffsNotes.

"The new campaign will highlight how Windows has become an indispensible part of the lives of a billion people around the globe -- not only on PCs but also now online and via mobile devices." Yep, they're right. That commercial had nothing at all to do with that. And thank goodness it didn't. I'd hate to think that crap was highlighting how "indispensible" Microsoft was in my life. You know what I DO find to be "indispensible", Microsoft? That's right, Spell Check! It's "indispensable", not "indispensible" like it appears in your carefully crafted PressPass Statement. (You're not doing yourself any favors here! You already have the non-mainstream comedian guy, a couple of churros and size 10 Conquistadors, which run tight! Clearly, you have your hands full with that debacle right there, you don't need to add spelling errors to the mix!)

"These initial ads are the first in a creative campaign....designed to spark a conversation about the Windows brand – a conversation that will evolve as the campaign progresses, but will always be marked by humor and humanity." Oh, the conversation has already evolved! From anticipation to dumbfoundedness. That's evolution for ya, baby. As far as the humor goes? Not so much. But, the humanity? Oh, the humanity! (I couldn't resist.)

A one Bill Veghte, who is the Senior Vice President for Microsoft Online Services & Windows Business Group., says, "Windows is entering a new chapter in our history. We’re renewing our commitment to consumers and working with our partners to deliver quality and value on the PC, across devices and across the Web.” Oh, yeah, you're definitely entering a new chapter in your history all right. I think this chapter will be called, "The Beginning of the End". Or maybe, "We Should Have Quit While We Were Ahead". Even, "Is Google Hiring?".

Microsoft also said that they were going to be "working with Circuit City and Best Buy to roll out "Windows-branded sales environments and store-within-a-store concepts" to compete with Apple's highly successful stores." So you guys finally realized that Apple might be onto something with that concept, eh? And you rolled out these ads with Jerry Seinfeld to compete against the "I'm a Mac" commercials of Apple's, too, right? OK, you're going to want to pay a little bit more attention to how they do things if you can't think of anything on your own, Microsoft. See, because the difference between the "I'm a Mac" ads and the "I like churros" ads is that the "I'm a Mac" ads are good.

I am predicting, at the very least, a small disaster. Not quite in the "What could possibly go wrong?" category just yet, but close. Maybe I'd put it in the "Hilarity did not ensue" category at this point. Because right now, that ad highlights what Microsoft is concerned about; that being that they're out of touch with the consumer. And while that commercial didn't exactly scream that they were in touch with the consumer, it was a completely unintentional reflection of how a lot of their products work. They work in a way that makes sense to those who work for Microsoft. The rest of the public, while not morons, gets a little frustrated that things just aren't straight forward and simple.

Again, I'm holding off any more judgment until I've seen at least one more episode of Bill and Jerry's Excellent Adventures. But if that one sucks too, there will be no mercy.

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