Microsoft Partners Puzzled Over Seinfeld Choice


According to the Wall Street Journal, Microsoft will pay Seinfeld $10 million to be one of the key figures of its upcoming campaign, in which he'll appear with former Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates in what are sure to be some of the most closely watched spots in advertising industry history.

But Andrew Kretzer, director of sales and marketing at Bold Data Technology, a Fremont, Calif.-based system builder, says Microsoft's decision to hire Seinfeld simply shows that Microsoft is out of touch.

"I find it ironic that in order to 'out hip' Apple, Microsoft is hiring a comedian whose prime was a decade ago. They may as well have Phil Collins do the background music while they're at it," he said.

Bob Nitrio, president of RanVest Associates, a system builder based Orangeville, Calif., isn't sure that Seinfeld is the right choice for tackling the task of rebuilding Microsoft's image in the post-Vista age and delivering a long overdue counterpunch to Apple.

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"I think Seinfeld was credible in the American Express ads he used to do, but Microsoft needs him to be twice as good at comedy, and many more times effective at drawing the audience into the message of the commercials, if they want to best Apple," Nitrio said.

The choice of Seinfeld will generally appeal to a slightly older demographic rather than to a younger audience, and that'll help Microsoft in the Vista vs. Mac wars, according to Michael Cocanower, president of Phoenix-based solution provider ITSynergy. However, Cocanower said he's a bit surprised at the potential inclusion of Gates.

"Gates is certainly a very recognizable figure, but he's never been someone I viewed in the position of a humorous or edgy pitchman for Microsoft," Cocanower said. "Whenever I've seen him speak about Microsoft and its products, it has always been a much more logical, intellectual presentation, and I'm wondering how that fits in this new series."

Regardless of who appears in the campaign, Microsoft needs to take the gloves off and come out swinging, but they need to do it tactfully, says Mark Crall, president of Charlotte Tech Care Team, a Microsoft partner in Charlotte, N.C. "If the entertainment value of their ads isn't exceptional, they'll look like a cornered cat lashing aimlessly in desperation," he said.

Added Crall: "What made the Apple ads funny were the exaggerated elements of truth. While Microsoft has fixed much of what Apple creatively made fun of, Microsoft can't just debunk the prior ads. Instead, they need to come over the top and try to get Apple on the defense, but with class."