"Jerry, I have to tell you something. This is the dullest moment I've ever experienced."
- George, watching laundry, in "Good News, Bad News" episode of Seinfeld.
I woke up this morning to find a Tweet from Startupmeme that the first Seinfeld ad for Microsoft had hit the airwaves. I followed the link with high anticipation. This, after all, is the work of the ad man genius, Alex Bogusky, the guy Fast Company calls a "hotshot." What I found was frankly shocking; an ad so brittle, so horrible, so not funny; it was actually puzzling. A true 'What were they thinking?' moment. In fact, Seinfeld's old TV sidekick, George could have been watching this ad when he uttered the quote above.
If this is the best Bogusky and his team can do to compete with the highly successful, and should I say, really funny, Get a Mac Campaign, Microsoft is truly throwing its $300M down the toilet because this is ad is pure crap. When I first heard about the idea to bring Seinfeld in for these ads, I thought it was misguided to say the least (as I wrote in Microsoft Seinfeld Strategy to Save Vista is Pathetic), but seeing the first ad just reinforces my initial thoughts. What you have is two paunchy aging Boomers in a shoe store (a shoe store?!) buying shoes. If you're wondering what this has to do with Microsoft or its products, you're probably not alone. It doesn't even mention Microsoft until the end, which would be fine, if the ad were clever or funny, but it misses in so many ways that it's the perfect metaphor for the company itself.
TechCrunch reports on a memo from Microsoft senior vice president of the Online Services & Windows Business Group, Bill Veghte, indicating that there is an actual method to this (literal) madness and that this is the first of a series of ads. The idea is to start a conversation about Microsoft and then build up to the products (you, know, what they actually sell). Well, here I am talking about Microsoft, but unless you adhere to the old chestnut that there's no such thing as bad publicity, it's probably not what Microsoft had in mind when it wrote the first check to Crispin Porter + Bogusky.
I suppose to be fair, maybe we should wait and see what the other ads look like, but as the first one out of the gate to show off their $300M ad investment that's supposed to show the misguided world, what a great company Microsoft is, it completely missed the mark. Bogusky has successfully brought two other brands, Burger King and Molson, back from the brink, so why not Microsoft a company surely on the edge of the abyss, but to me, this just places them one step closer to the edge and reinforces how out of touch they truly are.