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Microsoft's new Windows 7 ad: A copy of a copy?

A new Microsoft ad for Windows 7 and Windows Live seems like an ingenious message of hope for the future. Unfortunately, it's also very similar to two previous messages of hope for the future.

It was amusing during the last elections how candidates managed to offer themes that they thought voters wanted to hear. You know, like change. And, um, change.

Sometimes, great ideas work. Again and again and again.

So I wonder how inspired you will feel by a new ad for Windows 7 and Windows Live. It seems to offer all the human feeling that much of Microsoft's work in the past has lacked. It seems to be rather ingenious in the way it incites viewers to change their perspective about the world, and, implicitly, about Microsoft.

And then viewers ask themselves whether they've seen this idea somewhere before. And viewers answer themselves: twice.

This idea of reading something backward to create an opposite impression was most recently expressed by the British publishing house Dorling Kindersley.

It was beautifully written and voiced. It was viewed by many hundreds of thousands of people. It was talked about in many media.

And yet, even this was not an original. For the thought was first hatched by that bastion of modernity, the AARP. In 2007. And it has been viewed by, oh, more than 14 million people.

Does it matter that structure of all of these ads is identical? Aren't advertising concepts regurgitated ad infinitum by coke-snorting creatives in cubicles who are desperate for recognition (or, at least, survival, regardless of the cost?

Well, if you've seen more than one car commercial over the last 20 years, then you'll know every one has an obligatory shot taken on a hill not far from my house in California, as the car glides down windy bends in the light of dusk or dawn.

I have seen quite a few creatives make large careers out of reshooting sketches from comedy shows and sticking brand names at the end.

So who can begrudge Microsoft that it might have taken something fine and moving and hoped that it would finally move the needle of the company's brand image and equity?

But just imagine if it had been a first. You know, like Windows. Or, um, the iPod.