Gates-Seinfeld shtick more viral than 'I'm a PC'

The two Gates-Seinfeld commercials have enjoyed 4.3 million more viral-video views than Microsoft's replacement "I'm a PC" campaign, according to Visible Measures.

So has everyone been wandering around your office, puffing out their hairless chests and declaring "I'm a PC" with pride?

Thought not.

Visible Measures, a company that measures viral-video activity, announced this weekthat the Gates-Seinfeld ads enjoyed 4.3 million more viral views than the politely conventional "I'm a PC" campaign.

A somewhat improbable explanation was given for this enormous discrepancy. "So much viral video is basically word of mouth. And when you build a question into the creative, it gives people something to talk about," Matt Cutler, vice president of marketing and analytics at Visible Measures, told Ad Age.

I question this analysis.

Although the first ad had moments as forced as a Sarah Palin wink, the Gates-Seinfeld campaign was genuinely original. The second ad, in which the Laconic Duo tried to commune with real people--yes, even crabby little teenagers--was both amusing and intriguing.

The "I'm a PC" campaign, on the other hand, is as familiar as the tangy smell of a dentist's surgery. It captures the imagination about as well as Britney Spears captures a B-flat at 8 in the morning.

Visible Measures' figures bear this out starkly. After two weeks in the market, the Gates-Seinfeld ads were still getting about 700,000 views a day. After the same period, the politely conventional follow-up couldn't even scrape 50,000 a day.

"I am truly moved to accept this Technically Incorrect acting award..." CC Domain Barnyard

In case you were wanting to cry "Fix!," please be advised that each of the campaigns had about 75 online placements.

Of course, viral viewing isn't everything. But it is a significant indicator of where daily eyes--and especially young eyes--go to get themselves through their desperately tedium-ridden days.

Every echo coming out of the closed chambers associated with these two efforts suggests that Microsoft simply lost its nerve after some negative reaction to the Gates-Seinfeld buddy movies. You don't spend large amounts on a star--and pay Jerry Seinfeld to appear as well--with the thought that you'll only run the campaign for a few days.

It is all one large pity.

Firstly, because sometimes the very best creative works aren't universally embraced when they first come out.

And, secondly, because we have been deprived of more "Bill Gates, actor." Mr. Gates' performance in the second ad was quite remarkable, and there was enough in his chemistry with Mr. Seinfeld to suggest a long-term campaign.

Let's hope his agent finds him another gig.

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