Bill Gates is no George Costanza

Don Reisinger thinks Microsoft's co-founder looks out of place in the latest Jerry Seinfeld-Bill Gates ad. And as the company tries to change its image, that's unacceptable.

The Bill Gates-Jerry Seinfeld ad series is back for its second installment and after watching the latest commercial, I'm not nearly as impressed as I was by the first.

My dislike for this commercial has nothing to do with the content. (I still think that mentioning Vista and talking about the product is a mistake at this juncture because Microsoft needs to paint itself as a more likable company.) Instead, I don't like this ad because it paints Gates as the geeky rich man that he is. And for an ad that's trying to change a company's image, that's unacceptable.

When I watch a commercial with Seinfeld in it, I fully expect George Costanza, the pudgy, bald sidekick from his show. Call me crazy, but if Seinfeld is in a commercial, don't we need someone to complement his comedic style?

Seinfeld and Bill
A screenshot from the latest Microsoft ad starring Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld. Microsoft, CNET

After watching Gates for a while, it's utterly apparent that he doesn't provide anything of the sort. Instead, he shouts one-liners like it's his job (maybe it is?) and has no delivery, nor comedic sense to get him through the commercial.

And please, don't even get me started on the robot scene at the end.

I'm in full agreement that Microsoft needs to paint Gates as the "everyday man" and I even liked the idea of putting him in a home and making fun of the fact that he doesn't understand that man he's trying to live with. But the delivery was all wrong and Gates looked like an outclassed, high-school play actor next to Seinfeld and his signature wit.

The problem Microsoft has run into by using Seinfeld in commercials is everyone is looking for Gates to either be the straight man who is the butt of the jokes or the sidekick, like George Costanza. He's neither in this latest ad.

When I watched the latest commercial, I viewed it in horror. How is it possible that Microsoft can cart its co-founder to the set of this commercial and try to make him look like a buddy of Seinfeld? He isn't funny, he doesn't have the coordination to look physically comfortable in the commercial, and his "jokes" were quick one-liners that made it seem like he was reading from a script.

I applaud Microsoft for trying to make Gates more normal and portray him as "one of us," but the company shouldn't try to portray him as Seinfeld's clone.

The best example of just how poorly Gates performed in the latest commercial comes at the end when he and Seinfeld are rolling their luggage down the street. Look at how nonchalantly Seinfeld rolls it behind him and look at Bill's outstretched, tense arm rolling his luggage away. He's not relaxed, he's not comfortable, and most importantly, he's not in his element.

The key to Microsoft's ad campaign revolves around making the company and evidently its co-founder, more human and accessible. But maybe the plan to include Seinfeld in the commercials is starting to backfire. After all, if Gates can't look like Seinfeld's sidekick and he isn't trying to be the straight man that everyone makes fun of, he's Bill Gates.

And for Microsoft's purposes, Bill Gates being Bill Gates is the last thing the company needs right now.

Check out Don's Digital Home podcast, Twitter feed, and FriendFeed.

 

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