Thursday, August 21, 2008

Microsoft launches Seinfeld Bomb

There are times when life is unfair. And then there are times when life is juicy and rewarding. The unfair times are when seemingly stupid hot chicks make tons of money for nothing other than looking hot and being stupid.

But then there are the rewarding times. Like when a huge, rich corporation thinks it can buy its way into the hearts and minds of the public, simply because it happens to be huge and rich. Such is the case of Microsoft having announced its paying once-hip-now-just-wealthy-through-television-syndication comedian Jerry Seinfeld something like $10 million to pitch its bloatware.

Talk about the other guy blinking. Clearly Microsoft is more than a little irked at Apple's ability to claw its way back into the market. Where the Gates gang once boasted of Apple's continually dwindling market share, it now seems that Jobs and company have managed to steadily increase their share of market. In fact, some reports have Apple's MacBook laptops as the first choice of students throughout the United States.

Whether Apple's success is due to their iPod, MacBooks, AirPorts, iTunes or any one of their other revolutionary and elegant technological solutions is up for debate. One thing for sure: Apple's smarmy "Mac versus PC" television spots have connected with its audience -- and seemingly, with Microsoft's lower jaw. Years of ribbing have finally baited Microsoft into an "I'm hipper than you" war, with someone, somewhere, so totally clueless as to think that Jerry Seinfeld is the right man for the job.

Jerry Seinfeld? Excuse me, but aren't we just a few decades late on that call?

This is the exact reason I counsel clients to avoid celebrities like the plague. Forget the fact that a perennial prop on the Seinfeld show was a Macintosh (it was always on the desk against the wall of his apartment) or that hardcore fans can list the episodes which featured Apple's 20th Anniversay Mac. We're talking about a formerly single guy whose wit and charm has been largely replaced by jowls and cigars. The man has been a veritable ghost since the last, desperate season of his sitcom. But Microsoft thinks he can turn things around and make its brand hip, cool and relevant.

Let me go out on a limb here and make a prediction: This campaign is not going to make Microsoft relevant. This campaign is going to be the biggest bomb since Hiroshima.

Think I'm kidding? Okay, which does your kid prefer, an iPod or a Microsoft Zune? Uh huh. That's what I thought.

The fact is that no cheap campaign is going to change Mircosoft's brand image, because Microsoft has no brand strategy -- and never has. But Microsoft does have money. And influence. And the one thing that goes with both of those: A keen sense of denial.


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