What’s up with those ads?

What’s up with those ads?

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As I did previously, I'm posting this on behalf of my colleague David Webster.

Since my last post here as a guest blogger a few weeks back was to give you some context on the Mojave Experiment, I figured I should do the same for the other little campaign we're running on TV right now. Even if you're not a TV watcher, you probably know the one I'm talking about. It involves Churros, Pleather, Big Top Points and the Conquistador. Oh yeah, there's a Windows logo in there at the end too.

I thought I got a lot of mail when the Mojave spots came out, but I was wrong. Even in an election year (or maybe because we're in an election year), people sure do seem to enjoy debating our marketing.

Between the enthusiastic notes from enthusiasts,  the predictable notes from friends and family, and the even more predictable notes from haters and fanboys, two common questions emerged:

  1. Do you really think these ads will make people want to buy Windows Vista?
  2. Are you getting the reaction you expected/wanted?

Fortunately these are both really easy to answer.  Since I've seen tons of speculation out there (some very literate and interesting, others not so much), I figured it would be a good idea to answer them both here.

You might have seen that in some interviews last week we called these initial TV spots "icebreakers" designed to start a new kind of conversation. That's exactly what they are. Icebreakers. Not the whole campaign. Not even the main part of the campaign. Just the beginning of the campaign. Just as somebody might tell a joke to lighten up a room or get somebody's attention before changing gears, these first ads were designed to tap people on the shoulder and say "Excuse me. We're back and we'd love a few moments of your time".

Will seeing Bill and Jerry enjoy each other's company make people run out and buy a new laptop? Or correct misperceptions some non-users might have about Windows Vista?

Certainly not. We'd be crazy to think they would. That's why we're continuing the Mojave Experiment ads. That's their job.

And they do their job simply by giving people who've never done so an excuse to check out Windows Vista for themselves.

But this campaign, when fully unveiled, will talk about Windows in all its forms. Not just the OS for PCs we happen to be shipping today. In fact, not just an OS. And not just on PCs. Simply put, this campaign isn't about Windows Vista. It's about Windows.

That might not be what some folks were/are expecting. And it might be hard to believe given what you've seen so far.

But remember, we have gone on record saying the broader campaign will "tell the Windows story" and we intend to judge its success on that basis.

In that light I think it's pretty safe to conclude we don't expect the little logo at the end of these spots to do all that work by itself.

Answering question #2 is even easier.


When you set out to create advertising, the thing that keeps you up at night is not "Will some people not get it or like it?"

Rather its "Will anyone pay any attention and notice"? I think we can safely check that box. Oscar Wilde's quote on the subject may be overused, but it's good to keep in mind when thinking about marketing products that can get taken for granted in today's crowded media landscape: "The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about."

I'm not going to give any more details about how the campaign will evolve over the next couple of weeks, you'll have to stay tuned and see for yourself.

Or you can just listen to what folks are talking about on podcasts, blogs and around water coolers the next day ;-)

In that spirit, here are some of the best Seinfeld-inspired headlines we collected from various news outlets over the last few weeks. We sure made the headline writers' jobs more interesting (even when they got the Windows Vista focus wrong):

  • What's Up With the Ad About Nothing That Has Everyone Talking?
  • Seinfeld Peddles Vista From Milan to Minsk
  • These Churros are making me thirsty
  • You Vista Vista'd Over The Best Part!
  • Seinfeld goes to bat for Microsoft, yada yada yada
  • Is That The Conquistador? They Run Tight.
  • Microsoft talks Seinfeld into wearing the puffy OS
  • Microsoft: Still Master of the Operating System Domain
  • Vista & Seinfeld: Not That There's Anything Wrong with That
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  • I must admit that I once was a hater of Vista (stuck on XP) but I actually do like it better now that I have had more time to use it. Microsoft better come up with some type of marketing strategy if they wish to compete with Linux. I would hate to see them (MS) lose business.  I like the direction that Microsoft is heading in as far as operating systems is concerned.  Vista is very easy to operate; one can only imagine what 7 will be like.

  • Duane Duane
    52463 Posts


  • Wow.  I have to agree with the majority when I say that, "I don't get it".  Not only are the ads ineffective, they leave me vaguely embarrassed for Microsoft.

  • Ceinach
    45 Posts

    "I totally expect the next ad to be a hilarious jokefest revolving around the state of Vista Ultimate Extras. Just the thought gives me giggles. I can't wait to see Jerry and Bill stare at a blank wall cracking jokes again."

    Actually, it would be quite funny to have them arrive at the pink house, go in and find nobody home. They spend a week with just a wall with a TV on it. Seinfeld and Bill would be playing Texas Hold 'em at a table speaking in multiple foreign languages neither understands and commenting about how bored they are with nothing else to do other than play the same game over and over. On the TV screen, the same 10-second commercial is playing over and over again the same scene. They would then ask each other why they were there...both answering "who knows, but let's move on". Seinfeld would then get Bill to do some pet routine like bawking and clucking like a chicken, scratching and pecking at the ground, then they would continue to the next house on the next block...presumably blue this time.

    Now THAT would emulate the state of the extras program to a tee. Is anyone at Microsoft ever going to address the state of the extras, or is this simply turning out to be the most unclassy sweeping under the rug act I've seen in a long time?

    Chris? Brandon? Anyone going to be man enough to stand up for what's right and tell us what's going on with the extras program or are we just going to continue to eat static on the matter?

  • These ads are a long hilarious jokefest. Windows is a long hilarious jokefest. Chris, my hats off to everyone in the marketing department, you've nailed customer expectations with this ad spot on and conveyed exactly what you intended. I totally expect the next ad to be a hilarious jokefest revolving around the state of Vista Ultimate Extras. Just the thought gives me giggles. I can't wait to see Jerry and Bill stare at a blank wall cracking jokes again.

    Seriously. Can't we get some real problems solved for a change? I imagine $300 million would have been wasted on a few extras, but it's much better to have spent it on esoteric ads. It's good to see the old Microsoft back and clever as ever.


    Mike Callred

    Senior Consultant, Owner

    Callred IT Services

  • MDOC
    9 Posts

    Who cares about ads... any ad!?  If I'm looking for something, I wouldn't look up an ad. Just go and get it, I usually know where to get it...

  • caver
    1 Posts

    I watched the ads on TV and the "extended ad" on YouTube. Did I really see Jerry stealing one of the rare family greek coins and give it to the delivery man after Bill Gates stiffed him? I don't get it. Bill Gatea and Jerry seem like real jerks. I'd kick them out of my house too. Unacceptable behavior. They act like complete house-crashers.

    This seems like a very negative, very anti-social behavior to be associated to Microsoft. Is this what we should expect for Microsoft products? If it is, then perhaps I need to reconsider my future Microsoft purchases in leiu of a responsible, honest company.

  • It was kind of amusingly funny to watch Bill Gates do the robot, but I have to wonder what is trying to be conveyed? If it is that Windows is confusing, takes too long to load, causes family social issues, and really never gets the tasks done, then bravo. The ad succeeded. Why could you not just elegantly state what your saying? The ad plays like a mediorce magician who has to rely on cracking jokes and telling people to constantly look at the distractions to perform the trick. Myself and my wife we commenting that now we will be associating Microsoft with clowns, cheap, and theft of small stuffed animals. We still don't get it. Microsoft needs to stop the shenanigans and just get to the point already.

    Thank you for listeneing. As if any amount of comments on this board are going to change the way these ads are going now. This works for burger king ads being fast food, but really cheapens Microsoft's image IMHO.

    The Point, man. ;)

  • giamp
    1 Posts

    I feel those ads ro be too long, you say they are meant to break the ice but they are not funny. There is nothing more annoying than a guy at a party who tells stupid long unfunny irrelevant jokes. So far that's how I'm seeing this advertising campaign.

  • zestor
    1 Posts

    I would like to believe that I am going to be inquisitively enlightened, but I think it's more likely that I will still be wondering WTF? Any Advertisement that you need to explain to people is not working.

    I see the Ads trying to show that Microsoft wants to connect with people, but unfortunately, using a retro mall and 70s household only shows how out of touch these Ads are with the consumer.

    The days of inventing the better mousetrap are gone. Microsoft needs to be an innovator in the marketplace and offer the products that people want.

    If Microsoft is trying to push that Windows is not about products but about the experience, I would say that is a failed campaign. Apple already sells that it's about the experience, but they don't outright say it. People say it when they open the box and say "Wow!, this is cool"

    At a minimum offer messages that make sense like:

    - Your Mac upgrade means you get a new Mac

    - There are no viruses on the Mac because few people have Macs.

    - Mac computers have limited software available compared to Windows.

    As devices become smaller and smarter, they become disposable. People are not in upgrade mode, they are in replace mode. So if you are not the company that has the "new hotness" your the "old busted".

    Microsoft needs to break away from their bread and butter and offer products that break compatibility and are the "new hotness".

  • Personally, I think this is VERY funny and I DO see were this is going - I can hardly wait to get there! Seinfeld rulz (and ol' Bill is not so bad either...!)

  • sunco
    26 Posts

    Same here, i want subs in Spanish :(

    Some headlines:

    Vista & Seinfeld: World's collide

    Vista & Seinfeld: The opposite

  • dovella
    303 Posts


    PS.  This AD go in the world or only in US ??

    i wait Italian version or pls subtitle on you tube !!!!

  • I'm actually quite fond of them myself because its interesting how each TV ad progresses the overall "storyline". Also, I find a few hidden messages inside the ads that may or may not be my imagination. Ultimately its exciting to see what's next - how will the "storyline" progress further? It seems to be leading up to something...

  • I for one am quite disapointed with them. I found myself waiting to get the message.

    The ads just need to stay focussed and get the message across in an straight-forward manner.

  • Ceinach
    45 Posts

    I'm absolutely befuddled by the new ad.

    Let me get this straight. From the mall scene we now see Mr. Seinfeld and Mr. Gates have moved into some strange house, play ping-pong, clip toe nails, and sleep in the tennagers bedroom (I'm assuming together?). In the end, they are both carrying their luggage down the street to invade a pink house.

    WTF? This is gayer than San Francisco. First foot massages, short adjustements, and now THIS? Is Bill Gates trying to come out of the closet or what?

    I'm speechless in the utter stupidity.

  • Randy A
    3 Posts

    If you keep having to expain yourselves and defend  the ad's intent (which you've already had to do with the media to no end), then doesn't that tell you right there the state of things? People just aren't getting it. You are being either too clever or too esoteric.

    Let me ask you this, what other ad campaign did the company have to come out and try to explain (twice now) and was successful?

    The next ad better be screaming BRILLIANT that's all I can say because it's bordering on idiocy at the moment.