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Ad exec: Microsoft as 'victim' doesn't work

Ad agency CEO Kathy Sharpe said Microsoft should have tried a different tactic in trying to rebut Apple.

While acknowledging Microsoft is in a tough spot in trying to recast Windows after years of attacks from Apple, one ad executive said she is highly skeptical of Microsoft's new approach.

Ad agency CEO Kathy Sharpe said that casting the PC guy as a victim doesn't work for her.

Microsoft's latest ad, which starts running tonight, features a Microsoft employee who looks very much like the PC guy from the Apple ads, saying "I'm a PC and I've been made into a stereotype."

"Casting Microsoft as a victim still doesn't work for me," said Kathy Sharpe, CEO of New York-based interactive ad firm Sharpe Partners. "They aren't victims. Apple just is smarter about this sort of thing."

The PC guy in Microsoft's ads, by the way, is Sean Siller, who has been with Microsoft since 2005 and works as a senior program manager for networking in the Windows Core Operating System Division.

Sharpe said she does like the notion of showing the PC as diverse and used in many different ways, suggesting potential if that's where the campaign goes from here.

Sharpe was also skeptical that Microsoft really intended to end the Seinfeld bit so abruptly. She said that if, as Microsoft said, it didn't film more Seinfeld ads, it's probably because the first ads tested poorly. Microsoft insists that the shift was always part of the plan and the initial ads were simply an "ice-breaker."

Whatever the case, Sharpe said the Seinfeld bits clearly missed their mark.

"The first two ads and their variants were a very expensive way to build buzz--and not necessarily positive buzz," she said. "I don't know who they thought they were targeting in those ads."

Sharpe suggested that what Microsoft needs to be doing is appealing to the under-30 set, which she said is a tall order given how many of them carry iPods or iPhones and perceive Apple as cool.

And Apple's "Mac vs. PC" ads have been very effective, she said.

"Somehow the Mac always wins but they do so charmingly," Sharpe said. "It's just a very well done campaign."

If you want more from CNET News' Ina Fried, check out her Twitter feed at or follow her @inafried.