Thursday, September 18, 2008

On aging gracefully

If those bizarre Microsoft ads featuring Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld, showing them wandering suburbia to no apparent purpose, are leaving you puzzled or annoyed, I have good news. You won't be puzzled or annoyed much longer.

Microsoft flacks are desperately dialing reporters to spin them about "phase two" of the ad campaign — a phase, due to be announced tomorrow, which will drop the aging comic altogether. Microsoft's version of the story: Redmond had always planned to drop Seinfeld. The awkward reality: The ads only reminded us how out of touch with consumers Microsoft is — and that Bill Gates's company has millions of dollars to waste on hiring a has-been funnyman to keep him company

This ad campaign is part of a major push, mentioned here last week, to upgrade the "Microsoft user experience." The Gates-Seinfeld collaboration is the initial phase of this multi-million dollar, multi-year project--none of which so far seems to involve actually making better-than-mediocre products.

It's an interesting marketing gambit, associating Windows Vista with concepts like "aging comic" and "has-been funnyman," But apparently the boys on the top floor felt this was an improvement over being associated with concepts such as "repeated delays," "frustrating technical problems," and "crash-prone."

"Aging comic?" "Has-been funnyman?" Ouch. Didn't they see "Bee Movie," available in DVD or Blu-Ray?

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