Microsoft begins big ad push

Microsoft's multi-year push, estimated at $300 million, begins with a spot featuring Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld aired during Thursday's NFL game.

Ina Fried Former Staff writer, CNET News
During her years at CNET News, Ina Fried changed beats several times, changed genders once, and covered both of the Pirates of Silicon Valley.
Ina Fried
2 min read

Microsoft kicked off its fancy new ad campaign for Windows on Thursday with an ad featuring Bill Gates trying on shoes at a store with Jerry Seinfeld.

The ad, which is also set to be posted on Windows.com, aired during the NFL kickoff game on NBC and will also air on major TV shows starting Thursday night. It's part of an estimated $300 million, multi-year push developed by edgy ad shop Crispin, Porter and Bogusky.

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In the ad, Seinfeld sizes up Gates' shoe size (a 10), asks him whether he's ever tried wearing his clothes in the shower ("never"), and ultimately asks Gates whether Microsoft is ever going to come out "with something moist and chewy like cake." Seinfeld asks Gates to give him a sign, like adjusting his shorts, if the answer is yes. Gates gives a wiggle in the affirmative.

The spot then ends with the Windows logo and the phrase "Delicious." Predictably, the ad has found its way to YouTube.

Although the ads don't directly mention Apple, Microsoft has said that it no longer intends to let its competition position its products.

"We have a huge perception opportunity," Windows business unit head Bill Veghte told CNET News in July. "We are going to try a bunch of stuff."

New Vista ad
A screenshot from the new Windows ad, with Jerry Seinfeld sizing up Bill Gates' shoe size. Microsoft

It's a push that began, not with the expensive ads, but rather with the hastily put together "Mojave Experiment,"in which Microsoft put Vista in front of Vista skeptics, without telling them it was Vista, to gauge their reactions. (Microsoft has recently started running Mojave-based cable TV ads to complement its online campaign.)

But, with Apple's Get a Mac ads still running strong, it's an open question who will have the last word.

The initial reaction in the blogosphere (and in our newsroom) has been largely one of head-scratching. Absolutely pathetic" and "really bad" were some of the phrases I saw on Twitter.

Among other posts on Twitter were "You're kidding me right? THAT is what they think will be better than mac vs PC ads? LOL," "what the hell was that?" and "OMJ the new Microsoft / Seinfeld commercial is so LAME!"

While most of the reactions were negative, it did garner a smattering of praise. "Wacky and very funny actually" wrote one poster on Twitter.

A source familiar with the campaign said the first ad is designed mainly as a teaser.