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Microsoft's $300 million ad campaign tumbles downhill with new PC ads

post #1 of 141
Thread Starter 
Microsoft's bizarre campaign to turn $300,000,000 into a marketing message took an even stranger turn Thursday with the airing of the company's latest television commercial: "I'm a PC."

What began as an attempt to associate Microsoft with a smart and comic social relevance turned mean and condescending before being placed on hold indefinitely and replaced by a more defensive series of ads (below) that actually draw attention to Apple by referencing its Get a Mac campaign.

The Mojave Experiment

The first element of Microsoft's effort was the Mojave Experiment, which portrayed the problems of Windows Vista as being a big misunderstanding.

Critics presented that the Mojave ads seemed to portray customers as stupid while delivering a controlled demonstration that tried to deny Vista's widely reported issues rather than answer them with an straightforwardly apologetic solution.

The ads about nothing

Just as Mojave began running into widespread criticism, Microsoft turned attention to a series of ads with Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfield, which promised to "tell the story of Windows."

Instead, the first two ads offered up a story about how Gates buys discount shoes and then the tale of how an unlikely pair of rich house guests might upset teenage girls and slam the door on a star-struck young service person.

Rather than making Gates appear more human, the ads departed from the track and went tumbling off toward the random and often non-sensical comedy style of Seinfeld. The problem of course, is that Seinfeld was an entertainment show 'about nothing' that people watched for passive entertainment; this was an expensively produced advertising message that failed to say anything.

Microsoft promised that the first ads were just a teaser leading up to an expanded series that would get to the point. Yet after seeing the public reaction to the ads, Microsoft's PR group, Waggener Edstrom, put the series on hold, trying to spin the apparent cancelation as a planned progression to phase two, suggesting that the plan all along was to pay Seinfeld $10 million for two surreal teasers.

That story was outed as false when it was revealed that a third ad with Gates and Seinfeld had already been produced, but hasn't yet been aired, and that there is no current plan to publish it.

Crispin Porter + Bogusky

The Seinfeld ads were the work of Crispin Porter + Bogusky, a group with a reputation for doing more daring and original marketing campaigns to get people talking about a product. Interestingly, the group is profiled on Apple Canada's Pro website, related to a project that put four Mac minis hooked up to capture video from mini cameras installed in a Volkswagon Rabbit painted to look like a cab.

For two weeks, the campaign drove the car around New York City "offering perfect strangers free taxi rides in an effort to demonstrate the Rabbits ability to negotiate extreme city traffic."

In addition to the Mac minis installed in the car, which the producers described in the article by saying, "we could count on them being dependable and reliable throughout the process," the campaign also set up a series of seven Mac workstations in a hotel room so they could edit and compress the footage and get it up on a website within 24 hours.

It's somewhat ironic that Microsoft's upper management, after hiring Crispin Porter + Bogusky to inject some new life in the the company's brand, hastily decided to yank the ads before they had a chance to go anywhere. Of course, it's also ironic that they chose Seinfeld, who was not only featured in a Think Different ad by Apple back at the height of his popularity (below), but that Seinfeld also prominently displayed Macs in his fictitious apartment throughout the entire run of his TV show.

The circumstances of the Seinfeld ads left the appearance that Gates was trying to buy cool by running along after Apple looking for things to copy, the very thing Microsoft was trying to convey that it wasn't doing.



Your creative is too creative

Additionally, the Seinfeld skits seemed to be doing the opposite of what they intended to do; they actually ending up making Gates look more disconnected, arrogantly infatuated with his own sense of genius, and dismissive of the "regular people" who pay to use his company's products. In dumping them, Microsoft has revealed plans to more directly to take issue with Apple's Get a Mac TV spots.

Gates has bristled at the Get a Mac ads on several occasions before, which comically present John Hodgman as a PC character befuddled by problems, often with Vista. When asked in an interview if he identified himself with the PC character in Apple's ads, Gates stormed out of the studio.

The entire campaign seems to be more focused on Gates' intent to erase his perceived slight in being portrayed as a befuddled nerd rather than in presenting Microsoft as a strong and attractive brand. Microsoft already avoids using its company name on products it wants to market as cool, including the Xbox and Zune.

Those products are nearly irrelevant in comparison to the desktop Windows, Office, and server products that make up the vast majority of the company's revenues and all of its profits. Windows and Office are very high margin products that have enjoyed limited competition.

Get a PC?

Apple's Get a Mac ads are taking a bite into Windows Vista premium sales and more importantly creating a more positive impression of Macs at a time when even the Windows-oriented tech media is complaining about Vista. Allowed to continue, Apple might pull the cornerstone from Microsoft's monopoly machine that sells Windows licenses automatically with every new PC sale.

Microsoft hopes to reverse things by defending the image of the PC character, in part by presenting a generic Hodgman clone complaining about being "stereotyped," and by presenting a series of celebrities and other "everyday PC users" identifying themselves as a PC.

Microsoft's New "I'm a PC ad, aired Thursday night.

The problem of course is that Apple presents the Mac in contrast to PC because it wants to avoid any unnecessary mention of Windows. By copying Apple's line, Microsoft will be spending millions to advertise the PC rather than the Windows brand.

Further, as PC companies such as Dell and Acer continue to seek new ways to use Linux in place of Windows, and as the top PC vendor HP begins its own efforts to create a Windows alternative as reported by BusinessWeek, the idea of advertising "the PC" would do even less for Microsoft.
post #2 of 141
Bye bye, Microsoft. All they're doing is showing that they're scared of the success of Apple's ads. And aside from saying that PCs are more common than Macs, it doesn't say anything good about Windows. It's not even mud slinging. It's just stupid.
post #3 of 141
That ad is much better IMO.

Actually its quite good. While people will say its stupid to respond to Apple in their ads they really don't have much choice IMO. Apple is ascending in popularity and influence in the tech industry while MS seems stagnant. They should recognize this and confront it.
post #4 of 141
Congratulations Microsoft on spending millions of dollars on making some of the most pointless commercials ever! I don't even get what the Bill Gates + Seinfeld, shoes commercial means!
When the Mac VS PC ads are actually pointing out +s and -s the shoes commercial is talking about making our computers soft like cake????

I think they're extremely pointless and a lame attempt to try and show the world that Microsoft isn't just going lay there and take it from Apple...
post #5 of 141
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

The problem of course is that Apple presents the Mac in contrast to PC because it wants to avoid any unnecessary mention of Windows. By copying Apple's line, Microsoft will be spending millions to advertise the PC rather than the Windows brand.

Since I couldn't have said it as well, I'm quoting it.


However, I liked this ad for what it is and wish they would have continued the Seinfeld as I found them funny.
Dick Applebaum on whether the iPad is a personal computer: "BTW, I am posting this from my iPad pc while sitting on the throne... personal enough for you?"
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Dick Applebaum on whether the iPad is a personal computer: "BTW, I am posting this from my iPad pc while sitting on the throne... personal enough for you?"
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post #6 of 141
Dude, what is the deal with Bill Gates in every one of these ads? What is he trying to prove? I just don't get it...
post #7 of 141
I don't know... this I'm a PC ad campaign has an "unfortunate" tone to it. It feels like as a people we're addicted to computers, while it might be true it just doesn't make me happy \

This ad is a definite FAIL
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post #8 of 141
Actually, the ad was not as lame as I thought it would be. If they had made it a little less breathless by having fewer people, saying things more vivdily and calmly (e.g., along the lines of Deepak Chopra), it could have been a great ad.

What I don't get is, why do they have to show Gates in every one of these? Have they learned nothing from the failed hubris of of the likes of Deiter Zetsche (of DaimlerChrysler fame)?
post #9 of 141
Not a human doing, Not a human thinking.... I love it.

Make me want to run right out and buy one - whatever one is.

Whoever approved this crap at M$ should be shot!

Actually, M$ should sue Crispin Porter & Bogusky for trashing their image even further. I haven't been impressed with CP & B's other campaigns, but this is pure crap. Get a real ad agency Bill.
OMG here we go again...
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OMG here we go again...
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post #10 of 141
Any advertising campaign needs time to be successful. The ads Apple does are good for pointing out why Mac is better than PC, but the ads won't get people in the stores after one viewing. It takes a while to build a message. Microsoft needs to pick a campaign and stick with it.

Anyone can say what they will about the Apple ads, everyone knows who made them and what they are about. Can you say that about the Microsoft ads?
post #11 of 141
did someone say Bogus-ky
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post #12 of 141
I'm a person who just happens to use a PC and a Mac. I am not a PC or a Mac. I just use what works for me.
post #13 of 141
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

What I don't get is, why do they have to show Gates in every one of these?

He embodies MS. I suspect that they are rehabilitating his image, by surrounding him with 'cool' and 'real' people, in order to rehabilitate MS's image.

I don't think its a bad strategy, especially when he just makes the cameo appearance like in this ad.

If Apple was smart they'd move to a different ad campaign. It would make MS look like they are behind the curve and aiming at ghosts.
post #14 of 141
I like what the guy in the shark tank said:

I'm a PC & I'm kinda scared.

Kinda sets the theme if you think about it
post #15 of 141
These ads are as if Microsoft is apologizing for something. Will Microsoft ever get it? Or, is Microsoft doomed to remain in a fog?
post #16 of 141
They're at least profiling regular people who use Windows in their new ads. I thought that it was interesting that they covered both Obama and McCain's campaigns in the ad, though I seem to recall hearing that there are a lot of Macs among the campaign workers in both camps.

Still, it seems to me like these ads are little more than a different tack on the Mojave Experiment ads; the message is, "we're Microsoft, and we don't suck as much as people say we do." I think that's a bad message. Tell people why you don't suck, and you might start changing perceptions. Otherwise, the whole campaign becomes pointless as soon as the next big Windows virus story hits CNN.

IMO, an example of a beaten-down brand that's taking a better approach to restoring its name is GM. In their latest spots, they've been talking about how their product lines contain more hybrids than their competitors. It says, "hey, market: we heard you. We're responding. We're trying to make cars that you want to buy." Setting aside any personal opinions you may have about GM's vehicles, it's a much stronger message, than telling me that Bill Gates and a bunch of other people whom I will never know use Windows.
post #17 of 141
These ads (there are two more, viewable on youtube) are definitely not as weird and esoteric as the Bill & Jerry shows. They are straightforward, and leave no doubt about the message.

But they are even more pathetic than the Bill & Jerry shows.

1) Microsoft is angrier to be identified with a dorky guy in suit with glasses than about the shortcomings of Windows that are featured in the Apple ads.

2) They admit that their biggest threat is a hardware manufacturer with a market share 1/12 of their own.

It would have been much wiser to stick with the Bill & Jerry for quite some time longer. Those ads just developed their storyline, and I could see them working for what Microsoft needs right now.

But most importantly: The B&J ads are way more sophisticated and deeper than just attacking John Hodgman's PC appearance.
post #18 of 141
What a shame - I was kinda curious where the new ads were leading. I actually liked them because they were so off beat. Maybe it was a story with only a beginning. No middle and no end. Unbelievable that they even launched it if it hadn't been thoroughly tested.

As for the new add - really pissie, if you ask me. It will make all the trillions of pc's out there feel a little better about themselves, I guess. But then again, maybe not. The tone is kinda sad. The other ads had something daring about them. Something interesting, like they were going somewhere. This last one is utterly non-creative. Really bad idea to argue with a joke by throwing a facts at us. (that fact being that not all PC users are comic nerds... REALLY? OH, we didn't know that!)
post #19 of 141
Quote:
Originally Posted by paxman View Post

Unbelievable that they even launched it if it hadn't been thoroughly tested.

...because we all know that Microsoft has no history of doing anything like that...

(sorry, I couldn't resist.)
post #20 of 141
I love Apple, it's products, and it's advertising. However, I think Microsoft's PC ad is actually pretty good. The ad highlights a broad base of alleged real people PC users who are doing some serious work. Don't get me wrong, I don't know if it is smart to acknowledge your competitor or not, but I think the ads were well done. It is not funny like Apple's, but Microsoft has never been the sense of humor type of company.
post #21 of 141
Everyone knows Jerry Seinfeld has been a long time Mac user. There was always a mac on the desk behind his couch. You could see it on every show!
post #22 of 141
I actually agree here, but I think it is more because by Microsoft embracing the "I'm a PC" message it makes Apple have to stop.

Quote:
Originally Posted by backtomac View Post

If Apple was smart they'd move to a different ad campaign. It would make MS look like they are behind the curve and aiming at ghosts.
post #23 of 141
I was going to post this in the thread after the first Seinfeld/Gates ad, but now after all this jerking around and kicking here and there and pointing in first one direction and then another, it's much more appropriate now:

Sweet, Fancy Moses!!!
post #24 of 141
I think it's a well-made ad, like the Seinfeld ones were. It shows that you can do a variety of things with a computer.

It doesn't, however, show why you wouldn't do those same things BETTER on a Mac.

And it doesn't make any point about walls, since a Mac CAN run Microsoft Windows, if this is central to your fish peddling.

Thus, I'd say, it preaches to the choir. Which is OK but not that useful I predict.

"I'm a Mac" ads aren't aimed at dedicated Mac fans (who tend to hate them like I do) nor at Windows die-hards (whose own insecurities make them read all kinds of insults into them). "I'm a Mac" ads are aimed at all those masses of people in the middle, who might be persuaded to CONSIDER something other than Windows. And they work! People are considering Macs--they are now on the radar at last, and when people start looking into Macs, they like what they find--the product itself is compelling in a way Windows is not.

These MS ads shouldn't be targeted at Windows die-hards either, but I bet that's who will like them. For the rest of the consumer masses, the idea that "computers can do lots of things and all kinds of people use them" is ancient news and not very moving. Nor is the style of the ad memorable. A series of customer faces--it's been done a thousand times. As for the "walls" theme--all those masses of consumers who could be swayed either way probably don't spend a lot of time thinking about Windows OR Mac in terms of being proprietary and limiting. It's we tech-heads who dwell on those issues.

Now, I realize that nothing is going to make a Microsoft as look persuasive to we who know Macs well and use them every day. But an ad COULD inspire lots of OTHER people to stop considering non-Microsoft products. I don't think this ad achieves that, but we'll see where the campaign goes. (At this rate, it will have a whole NEW theme by next week )
post #25 of 141
After Microsoft uses the "i am a PC" line.. they already lost. It just shows that they have given in to Apple... Its kinda like promoting Apple's commercials.. since they are the ones that came up with that oh so famous line

"hi, im a pc" and " im a mac"

Sorry microsoft, it appears that $300 mil is a waste of money. But i think it helps the US economy more than microsoft..
post #26 of 141
Quote:
Originally Posted by jbcaro View Post

I'm a person who just happens to use a PC and a Mac. I am not a PC or a Mac. I just use what works for me.

So you are a human doing?
post #27 of 141
Quote:
Originally Posted by ros3ntan View Post

After Microsoft uses the "i am a PC" line.. they already lost. It just shows that they have given in to Apple... Its kinda like promoting Apple's commercials.. since they are the ones that came up with that oh so famous line

"hi, im a pc" and " im a mac"

Sorry microsoft, it appears that $300 mil is a waste of money. But i think it helps the US economy more than microsoft..

I think most people will associate PC with any computer.. could be a Mac, DELL, HP they are All a Personal Computer..

I love my MAC and I wear Glasses...
post #28 of 141
From the ad...

"Hello I'm a PC and a human being"

Yes, are there other kinds of PC users? Are the ducks finally taking that evolutionary step from floating around in ponds to blue screens of death?

Well at least the Bill and Jerry ads were on to something but this....
post #29 of 141
The new ads are funny... but they are just an echo to the Mac?PC ads...meaning more free advertising for Apple.
post #30 of 141
If Microsoft was going to reference Apple, they should have just said "whether you get a Dell, HP or even an Apple -- Windows is the most popular OS out there, and it is for a reason..." It would have been cheaper and more effective.
post #31 of 141
So Jerry Seinfeld made (use Dr. Evil voice) 10 MILLION dollars to make three ads, one of which is not even airing? Wow, it must be nice to be able to throw money around like that!!

It is funny that MS if starting to freak out so much in regards to Apple in regards to its recent growth. Why should they be worried. Apple is not going to gain much of the market share as Apple doesn't seem interested in the enterprise side of things. Nor is Apple going to allow the install of OS X on a non-Mac system. These things will limit how far Apple can grow overall. Do they need to grow that much? Not really, considering they have a ton of money just sitting in the bank. They must be doing something right.

MS will continue to hold the majority of the market share for the foreseeable future, unless something DRASTIC happens.....meteor from space, etc. This is all about trying to put a positive, cool, etc. face on MS. They would be better served spending that 300 million on making a better product.
post #32 of 141
Is it just me or is Microsoft completely missing the mark?

To me the I'm a Mac, and I'm a PC commercials show Long and Hodgman as the personification of the actual hardware not as users, not belonging a group. So when PC says, "I'm a PC" it really means "I AM a PC". It's about how your experience using a Mac is better because your computer won't be besieged by all the crap you have to deal with on windows.


After watching the commercial this is the impression I'm left with: "I'm a PC rawwwrrr!! I wear glasses!!!! and have a beard rawwwwrr!!!"

I anticipate this will have zero impact on how successful Apple's campaign is.
post #33 of 141
Quote:
Originally Posted by bloggerblog View Post

did someone say Bogus-ky

That's totally BOGUS

The amount of waste in this country has gotten totally out of hand. Unbridled greed and speculation, billion dollar government bailouts, and THE stupidest and most expensive marketing campaigns from THE largest US tech company. WTF has happed to this country???? Has EVERYONE lost their sense of what's real and what's not, what's good and what's bad???? Sheese, I need an Advil....\
post #34 of 141
Quote:
Originally Posted by beg View Post

Is it just me or is Microsoft completely missing the mark?

I anticipate this will have zero impact on how successful Apple's campaign is.

Actually it will have an impact, it makes Apple look EVEN BETTER!
post #35 of 141
Well OK, you got me there.
post #36 of 141
Bill Gates has been enormously generous with The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation ( www.gatesfoundation.org ). It does great things. If he wants everyone to know that he's a good guy, he should exploit that aspect. Maybe with a "we donate x% of profits" to it
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post #37 of 141
Quote:
Originally Posted by monosound View Post

From the ad...

"Hello I'm a PC and a human being"

Yes, are there other kinds of PC users? Are the ducks finally taking that evolutionary step from floating around in ponds to blue screens of death?

Well at least the Bill and Jerry ads were on to something but this....

Yes there are PC users other than human beings, watch the ending of the second Seinfeld ad, I think they had frogs in there as possible PC users.
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post #38 of 141
And I don't mean Sarah Palin!
post #39 of 141
Quote:
Originally Posted by pt123 View Post

If Microsoft was going to reference Apple, they should have just said "whether you get a Dell, HP or even an Apple -- Windows is the most popular OS out there, and it is for a reason..." It would have been cheaper and more effective.

Exactly. They have accepted Apple as their biggest competitor. How can this be, when Microsoft 'just' makes software, while Apple makes primarily hardware, and doesn't even want their OS to be installed on Windows boxes?
post #40 of 141
Quote:
Originally Posted by PFR View Post

And I don't mean Sarah Palin!

And neither did Obama, if you listen to the entire sentence he spoke.

But back to the ad:

I think this is a huge opening for Apple in conjunction with new hardware it's about to roll out.
Picture this:

Hodgman stands on the screen at the outset (just like this ad) and spouts the famous "I'm a PC" line.

Then ordinary user after ordinary user (like those in this ad) walk in, each holding an open, new MacBook in their hands. Each MacBook screen randomly has either a Windows or Apple logo prominently displayed, and each user says (correspondingly) "I'm a Mac" or "I'm a PC".

Once a couple dozen of them are assembled onscreen, in unison they all say "And we all run perfectly on the new MacBook!"

A (as always) cute Mac Genius then says "Available today at your Apple Store or online at apple.com."
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