Category: Seinfeld

Microsoft, please carry on…

Courtesy of Rixstep:

Spontaneous Shoplifting @ MSFT Store

Words don’t often fail me, but the sight of a dozen minor-geeks, awkwardly clapping and trying to dance, under the guise of spontaneity… well I don’t know what to say or where to begin.

Microsoft, you’re making a complete fool of yourself. You really don’t know what (hopefully) irreparable damage you are doing to your brand (such that it is) and your public image.

Years from now, when Microsoft are long, long gone, people will look back at the YouTube video and say that this was one of the 10 or so key moments where severe blows were dealt that added to this company’s downfall.

The reason why Microsoft have survived and prospered this far, is because of the army of Windows IT Professionals that have propped up this loose assortment of sloppy hacks and ass-backwards ‘me-too’ and ‘just good enough’ coding.

They have survived because of the mass-ignorance of your average PC-buyer, who needed their hand held whilst buying their computer.

But now things have changed. Apple, Google, Twitter, Facebook and dozens of others have caught up whilst Microsoft were sleeping, and Microsoft’s customer has changed – they are armed with geek-knowledge and they know how to use it.

Ballmer, like the captain on the Titanic, tried to ignore it, but now, with market-share and mind-share slipping he has to do something.

He calls on his troops, but more and more of these troops are bringing in laptops with Apple logos on them. They have iPods, and iPhones, they use Google instead of Bing, and Office is the last thing on their mind with free alternatives readily available.

So he does something – Vista. A total failure that would have finished most companies – but Microsoft isn’t ‘most’ companies.

He tries ‘new’ and ‘different’ advertising campaigns. They are met with derision, confusion and worst of all – laughter, the ‘at’ kind, not the ‘with’ kind.

Plan B. If you can’t beat them – join them. Or copy them. Copy them in exactly the same way you’ve copied them before, back when that ‘computer for the rest of us’ was first released.

Copy it backwards and upside down. In such a way that although all the pieces are there, they just don’t quite fit together.

What you are seeing in this poor, poor, sad video above, is Microsoft in the raw. When the support from all the IT professionals has gone.

They have to compete. On their own. This is who they really are.

I’ve often thought Microsoft were indestructible and I would be writing this blog to the end of my days with them always there, always copying, always getting it totally wrong.

You know I’m beginning to see, at last, the end of this once never great company.


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:


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.


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!


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…

Reaction to Microsoft’s answer to ‘GetaMac’

I’ve not published for a while as I have been knee-deep in the negotiations to convert my company’s website from a standard informational website in to a fully-fledged ecommerce site.

So I’ve let pass the current effort by Microsoft to counter the resurgence of the Mac with their own set of advertising, costing $300 million no less.

Being very busy, I don’t have the time to look into the metaphorical reasoning behind the Seinfield ads, but I assure you I will sooner or later.

I’m a marketing guy and I deal with peddling bullshit to consumers on a daily basis, and at first glance these ads seem amateurish at best.

In addition, I’m too late – they’ve been pulled already.

Microsoft have continued the assault on Apple with the ‘I’m a PC’ ads. Again however, the ads seem poorly thought out and clumsy in their execution.

But I’m not going to go into detail, but one thing I’ve noticed is the reception that any advertising effort by Redmond seems to generate in the media. It seems that the press is resoundingly negative in their judgement.

Why is this? Surely something can be said of these adverts that would give Microsoft some hope? Even myself at my most impartial, could, if pushed, muster some sort of positive morsel.

It seems to me that the tables have been turned.

Back in the 80’s & 90’s, the main motivating factor, the thing, above all that would sway someone’s opinion on whether to choose an IBM PC or a Macintosh, was their friendly (or not so friendly) neighbourhood geek.

The spotty nerd at work, the weirdo that fixed the computers, the clumsy nobby-no-mates that bored you senseless with talk of RAM, memory, DOS & hard disks.

And his recommendation was (you guessed it), the DOS (and Windows) PC. He scoffed at the Mac, calling it a toy, lacking in software, no powerful and something that nobody used.

And his recommendation stuck. For years. And years. We’ve been at the brunt-end of that decision ever since. The entire IT industry is geared towards pushing us to Windows and the PC.

Fast forward to the last few years. After years of crashes, viruses, trojans, malware and ever cheap computers, that seem to last little more than 18 months, the consumer who relied of their geeky friends recommendation just doesn’t believe them anymore.

So who do they believe? Well who’s left?

Their not going to listen to a Mac user either, because we get lumped together with those geeky weirdoes.

The only thing left is the media. They are listening to the media, the ad-men, all those artists who use Macs in all the creative departments up and down the land, all those PR agencies and marketing people who use predominantly the Mac.

The Mac’s time has come – for years the IT geeks recommended the PC to anybody who would listen, well those days are gone. Now that the consumer’s ear is turning towards the media, we will recommend nothing but the Mac.

Poetic justice for all the years of misery they’ve put us all through.