Initial thoughts on the Microsoft retort…

In thinking about what my views are on Microsoft’s $300 million ad campaign, I’ve a few points that will hopefully give some structure to my thoughts over the next few posts:

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Firstly, why bother?

Apple has (at best) 5-7% worldwide market share. Microsoft and the PC brigade account for just about everything else. At the very, very best, if Apple continue with the proprietary hardware and (sort of) open OS model, they can hope for 10% tops, and I’m being optimistic.

Are Microsoft that desperate for total domination that they can’t stand a competitor to have a tenth of their market share? What difference will it make to there day to day business & profitability? Absolutely none.

So why? The only reason I can see is that this is not business – it’s personal.

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Secondly, why did they change direction completely after 2 ads?

I work in advertising, I’ve been present and had decision making input when agencies pitch for work. I can say that if the usual rules apply (and I don’t see any reason why they shouldn’t here), what we are seeing is ‘pitch 2’. 

When pitching it’s usual that three ideas are presented. The first idea is what the agency wants, the second is what the customer wants and the third is a combination of the first two. The agencies pitch will push for their choice, and it will be the one that has had the most work put into it.

The Seinfeld ads were the agencies choice, the ‘I’m a PC’ ads are what Microsoft wanted. The 3rd pitch we will never likely see (unless Microsoft pull the ads again!)

The Seinfeld ads are typical high-brow, high-concept crap that agencies love because it’ll get them mentioned in Creative Review and maybe win an award, whilst having f**k-all use for the customer.

The ‘I’m a PC’ ads are the one created grudgingly by the agency in case they couldn’t convince them to go with their choice.

The 3rd set of ads are never meant to be chosen, because the agency can use them to agree with the customer that it is something they don’t want, this makes it easier to convince the customer that they need to agree again with the agency and go with their choice.

The brief from Microsoft will be along these lines:

“See those Apple ads? They piss us off. They’re taking the piss out of us every single frickin’ time! That PC guy? That Bill Gates that is! They’re telling lies! – none of this crap is true! Well maybe some of it is, but we want revenge! We want you to create ads that answer those ads and blow them out of the water!”

And so they agency create 3 concepts, one for them, one for the client and another they can throw away. They did well to convince Microsoft of the Seinfeld ads – they deserve an award for just that!

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Thirdly, what the hell are the Seinfeld ads all about?

Their seems little point now in explaining because a) they’re cancelled, and b) the agency probably doesn’t have any clear idea either, but I will attempt a breakdown.

But not yet – I need to watch them just a few more times… Lucky me…

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