In an attempt to counter Apple’s popular & effective ‘I’m a Mac’ series of ads, Microsoft has apparently signed on Jerry Seinfeld, reportedly for US$10mn. It was first reported by the Wall Street Journal, citing ‘sources close to the company’ -meaning, this story was leaked to them. Was it from Microsoft or from the agency insiders? There is no way to tell. The blogosphere has gone to town with it. Here is a brilliant take on it from Dan Lyons and Joy of Tech’s latest comic on it.
There are pros & cons to the approach. The use of a celebrity does give visibility and buzz to the brand. But it depends on the choice of celebrity, how the celeb is used and the objective behind the campaign. Seinfeld’s light-hearted personality seems like a nice way to convey the message that they are not taking themselves too seriously in the ads. The moot point is the objective. From the recent Mojave Experiment it appears that Microsoft wants to convey the message that ‘ Vista is not actually that bad. It’s only a perception.’ Now, that’s a defensive approach. How will it pan out in the ads? My take:
- Microsoft cannot own ‘cool’ (atleast not in the same way as Apple is cool). People use Microsoft products not because they are cool. But because they have no choice. As Alley Insider put it, ‘9 out of 10 people cannot be cool’. Apple may suffer the same fate as its market share grows – in fact, with the iPod (and iPhone?) they may face the same situation – their products are so ubiquitous that everyone may not want to be seen with an iPod.
- Jerry Seinfeld is a likeable personality. The humour can overcome the competitive stance of ‘I will not let Apple ride roughshod over Vista perception’.
The campaign to improve Vista’s perception is anchored on the thought ‘Windows, not walls’ or variations of this theme. Seems like an attempt to take a dig at Apple preferring to control so many aspects of its product usage – from hardware to software to DRM on iTunes. And on the choice of the celebrity – does Seinfeld have appeal among the youth? I thought he appealed to those who would be in their 40s by now. Or does his appeal cut across ages? I think it cuts across ages.
Given that the agency behind this new campaign is Crispin, one can expected the unexpected from the ads.