Valleywag has the scoop on Microsoft dropping Seinfeld after a series of ads that were universally ridiculed for not doing anything to promote the Windows brand and combat Apple’s well-known “I’m a Mac/PC” ads. I personally found the ads amusing, but can see why people didn’t think that they hit the mark.
For starters, there’s nothing exciting about Windows Vista. I mean, come on, it’s an operating system for crying outloud. So in that respect, there’s a disconnect between the vibe of the Seinfeld/Gates commercials and the actual user experience on a Windows machine. Also, people need to keep in mind that Microsoft is launching this ad campaign from a position of weakness. Sales of macs are surging while Microsoft is still trying to recover from Vista’s less than stellar launch, and with that as the backdrop, it’s apparent that Microsoft wasn’t trying to convince consumers that PC’s are great, but rather that they aren’t bad.
So while the new Microsoft ads were entertaining in their own right, were they on course to make a dent in Apple’s armor? The answer, sadly for Microsoft, is a resounding no. But the reason for that isn’t exactly Microsoft’s fault. The very nature of Microsoft’s business model is to rely upon numerous third party manufacturers to provide the hardware that runs Windows. Dealing with so many different manufacturers makes it tough, if not impossible, for Microsoft to provide a consistently enjoyable user experience. In other words, even if Vista was amazing, there’s only so much that Microsoft can do. For example, I might buy a bargain-basement PC that’s filled with spam-like third party software, or a PC that has a clunky keyboard and crappy monitor. Those problems wouldn’t be Microsoft related, but the end user doesn’t tend to differentiate Windows from the hardware running Windows – and that’s the real root of Microsoft’s dilemma.
A spokesman for Microsoft says that dropping Seinfeld so soon into the ad campaign was planned, but it doesn’t seem likely that Microsoft shelled out 10 million dollars for 2 commercials. Again, I actually enjoyed the new Seinfeld ads, but Microsoft’s quick pink slip to Seinfeld could indicate that people are panicking over at Redomnd.