When Microsoft announced its new $300M USD ad campaign to counter Apple's iconic Mac Guy, PC Guy ads, reactions were mixed, but generally enthusiastic. One of the most typical sentiments was -- what took Microsoft so long?
Now inside reports have started to reveal the shape of ads to come for Microsoft. The biggest news is the celebrity advertiser involved. Inside sources reveal that Jerry Seinfeld will be appearing alongside Microsoft Chairman and founder Bill Gates -- so don't rule out a Mac Guy, PC Guy spoof. For his role, Mr. Seinfeld is expected to receive a paycheck of $10M USD.
The ads, expected to debut September 4, should carry some variations of Microsoft's "Windows, Not Walls" slogan about breaking down misconceptions and communications barriers. Microsoft executives say the new campaign cannot come too soon. One executive speaking anonymously admitted that Microsoft MVP Windows brand had been battered by the clever Mac Guy, PC Guy ads to the point where it was being perceived as stale in the consumer market, despite PCs enjoying superior pricing.
The Mac Guy, PC Guy ads to which he refers are designed to market Apple's OS X as an alternative to Windows Vista, selling its hardware in the process. It depicts Windows as an obese suit wearing maladroit, while Mac is a funny, sensitive, and well-dressed 20-something. The ads developed by advertising gurus at Omnicom Group Inc.'s TBWA/Chiat/Day are so wildly successful they have become pop culture, even creating acting careers for both "Mac Guy" Justin Long and "PC Guy" John Hodgman.
Changing people's perception of Windows Vista is essential to Microsoft as it derives 28 percent of its revenue from the product. Microsoft still holds a commanding lead, but sales of Macs have been steadily rising. Mac ads attack Windows Vista as being plagued with technical difficulties, a charge Microsoft says is untrue, saying such problems have long since been fixed.
Robert Passikoff, president of Brand Keys, a New York branding firm says Microsoft must do something or risk sinking sales in Windows and surrounding products such as Office. Says Passikoff, "They are not seen as cool. Apple is cool. Can anyone even recall a Microsoft ad? No."
Microsoft may benefit from the appearance of Mr. Gates, who has celebrity status of his own. Mr. Gates is very comfortable working with top entertainers and has appeared at events with Jay-Z, Bono, and actor Matthew McConaughey. According to the source, Microsoft also considered other comedians such as Will Ferrell and Chris Rock before settling on Jerry Seinfeld.
Microsoft and Seinfeld’s representatives both refused comment. The advertising firm developing the ads is Crispin Porter + Bogusky, a Miami-based ad shop which helped turn around Burger King's fortunes. While the firm's iconic King ads helped boost sales, the company also produced Miller Lite's "Man Laws" ads, which were a moderate flop, failing to boost sales.
Davie-Brown Entertainment, a marketing company owned by Omnicom Group says Seinfeld has a lot of appeal and ranks 41st of 1,900 celebrities in terms of brand appeal. Some fear, though, that after 10 years of being off the air, Mr. Seinfeld is not as identifiable with younger audiences as he once was. To help push "Seinfeld" on a younger audience, Sony Corp.'s Sony Pictures Television, its distributor, has announced a "Seinfeld Campus Tour" to promote the show. Analysts say that despite this difficulty Microsoft's move is likely wise, as it is dangerous to try too hard to pander to a younger audience.
Microsoft recently has had a very successful initial advertising campaign with its Windows "Mojave" ruse, in which it tricked users into liking Vista by pretending it was a new OS.