Seinfeld/Gates Ads Not "Pulled"

The word spread late last week while I was away that Microsoft “pulled” TV ads featuring Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Gates. Based on talking to Microsoft officials when the campaign broke, though, the transition of the campaign to an ad featuring cool people who are PC users (to try and debunk the depiction of PC-man in Apple ads) was planned from the start.

Lots of the so-called Technorati press, bloggers included, hated the Seinfeld/Gates ads, fueling the presumption that the ads were “pulled.”

Consider this assertion by Ad Age: “After only two weeks, Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Gates’ rambling conversations about nothing have been jettisoned for a new campaign in which Microsoft tries to rebuild an image that has long been battered by rival Apple.”


Microsoft spokesman Eric Hollreiser told me more than two weeks ago that the Seinfeld ads were only a first phase of the campaign, and were intended as a “conversation starter.”

I wrote on the campaign previously, and the fact that I thought the Seinfeld/Gates ads were an example of good story-telling and engagement.

Here is an example of the new ads:

Microsoft might have done itself a favor if they had shown all the work to reporters gat the start, instead of being so cryptic about where exactly the campaign was going. But a strategic decision was made to make the reporters and bloggers follow the campaign, rather than having all the info and content upfront. However, bloggers especially don’t like to have to follow a news story with the rest of the world. They like to be ahead.

I chalk the whole thing up to a marketplace bias against Microsoft. People like to hate Microsoft, and they like to like Apple. It’s a difficult fact that confronts anyone at Microsoft with a marketing title. One of the jobs of the Seinfeld/Gates ads was to do the equivalent off off-shore bombardments, softening up consumers for the real product messages that would follow. Clearly, it worked with some, but not others. My guess is that it worked pretty well with people who are mostly indifferent to Microsoft, and did little to move those who are dug in on hating Microsoft.