The babblesphere has been soundly flummoxed by the just released Microsoft advertisement, which shows Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Gates off shopping at the mall, with Windows mentioned only at the end. Sometimes in their own words and sometimes using concepts they found on Wikipedia, the technically advanced and socially inept have tried to comprehend a communication that doesn’t include ‘LOL’ or an incoherent character assassination. My duty is clear – to help these people get a clue.
I am a Bolshie and lecturer in Media so you can trust me, I will also pretend to smoke this pipe so as to reassure you that I am wise.
You need to understand advertising communications as working on multiple levels. The “I’m A Mac, I’m A PC” campaign that Apple Computer has run for some time works not only on the surface level of making a comparison between computing platforms, but also associating personalities with their respective companies, that is the comedic version of Bill Gates with Microsoft and the tragically youthed-up Steve Jobs with his. (That Jobs has chosen an actor half his age that resembles Maynard G Krebs is revealing but let it pass for now). Their friendly banter seems intimate and more ‘truthful’ than any real comparison, it allows Apple to get away with ..er.. ‘having misspoken’.
More than that – it it is designed to possess the image of Bill Gates, and therefore possess the public perception of Microsoft as a whole. Apple attempts to steer the public perception of Microsoft in the way that political parties attempt to subvert the message of the opposing candidate – ‘what he really means is this…’
Microsoft’s late response is to regain control of Bill Gates persona. Never mind what Gates does or where, the connection between the actor that plays Gates and himself must be broken and broken hard. To break it, take the banter between the two actors in the Apple adverts, inflate it and steer it towards nonsense. Put the real Bill Gates in so that the fake one looks fake. Show the dialogue as not revealing but in fact vapid. Erase the character that plays Steve Jobs by a more familiar comedian but also one that is associated with nothingness. Which then makes the Maynard G Krebs guy a little less smart.
Dilute their message.
All of this fits in within the Microsoft strategy to control a message that’s been allowed to fester too long, that goes something like ‘I am a computer expert and I think Vista is sucks even though I have never used it’. Whether or not Vista is Sucks (I’m typing this in Vista so you can take me as one of the people who at least actually tried it first) the message was coming from emotions and not experience. Which is why the emotions are the battlefield here.
That advertising should work at this level is rather sad.
Now if it was me, I’d just show this spinning for 90 seconds: