Microsoft to Try "Going Hip" with Seinfeld Ads

Let's be honest: even if you use a PC you have to admit the Apple "Get a Mac" ads are hip, funny, and clever. Despite our PVR, we will stop in the middle of a commercial skip and watch a new "Get a Mac" ad. The latest "Get a Mac" ad, "Off the Air," ratchets up the rhetoric somewhat by saying that "fear of switching is the foundation of customer loyalty for PCs."

Microsoft's apparently grown weary of these ads and, according to the Wall Street Journal (paid subscription required), Microsoft is ready to unveil a new ad campaign, with the slogan "Windows, Not Walls" as its tagline, and with Jerry Seinfeld as one of the key celebrities involved.

Those people say the point is to stress breaking down barriers that prevent people and ideas from connecting. The campaign, said to debut Sept. 4, is one of the largest in the company's history. The attempted image overhaul comes as Microsoft executives privately acknowledge that Windows -- the company's most important brand -- has grown stale and has been battered by Apple's "Mac vs. PC" ads.
Personally, the message is more important than the spokesperson, IMHO, as it's not like the Apple ads used A-list stars. Obviously now many people know that the Mac Guy is Justin Long (dating Drew Barrymore didn't hurt), and that the PC Guy is John Hodgman, but in the beginning, they were pretty unknown.

"They are not seen as cool," says Robert Passikoff, president of Brand Keys, a New York branding firm. "Apple is cool. Can anyone even recall a Microsoft ad? No." Apple and its brand-obsessed CEO, Steve Jobs, have been producing distinctive advertising since its famous "1984" campaign, which debuted that year in the Super Bowl.
Of course not! Microsoft is definitely not cool. What Windows is, however, is ubiquitous. And perhaps that's something else Microsoft should focus on: Windows Everywhere.

Microsoft also plans to feature Bill Gates in the ad. While he's definitely an icon in computing, he's also definitely not cool. The campaign was created by Crispin Porter + Bogusky, a Miami-based ad shop that has helped brands such as Burger King recover some of their mojo.

We'll see what happens, starting Sept. 4th.