Microsoft's New Spot From Crispin Is an Ad About Nothing (So Far)

Bill Gates Steals the Show From Jerry Seinfeld in 90-Second Windows 'Teaser Ad'

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- You could be forgiven for not knowing what that the heck Microsoft's new TV ad from Crispin Porter & Bogusky, which made its debut during last night's National Football League opener, was about.
In the ad for Windows, the Seinfeld humor is par for the course, if not a bit disappointing, but it's Mr. Gates' hokey delivery that's the star of the ad.
In the ad for Windows, the Seinfeld humor is par for the course, if not a bit disappointing, but it's Mr. Gates' hokey delivery that's the star of the ad.

The only reference to Windows, the product it promotes, comes in the last half-second of the minute-and-a-half spot in the form of the Windows logo. Of course, a big hint you were possibly watching an ad from Microsoft is that it stars the man synonymous with the company, Bill Gates.

The spot opens with Jerry Seinfeld shopping at a mall when he spots Mr. Gates trying on shoes at the very cheesy Shoe Circus. Mr. Seinfeld proceeds to resize Mr. Gates' feet, give him advice about breaking in new kicks (shower with them) and, after some talk of Mr. Gates' Jupiter mind being melded to the Saturn-ringed brains at Microsoft, asks Mr. Gates when Microsoft will introduce something new that would make computers moist and chewy, like cake. The Windows logo pops up right after the word "Delicious."

Huh?

The Seinfeld humor is par for the course, if not a bit disappointing, and it's Mr. Gates' hokey delivery that's the star of the ad. But the ad is a classic Crispin Porter oddity, and the software maker can only hope the weird exchange between Messrs. Seinfeld and Gates can garner the kind of buzz that, say, its peculiar iteration of the Burger King mascot did for the fast feeder.

Few other recent advertiser-agency relationships have garnered the kind of attention the Microsoft-Crispin partnership has. In part that's because Microsoft is banking on it to reverse the drippy image it's picked up thanks to Apple's "Mac vs. PC" ads; its corporate reputation could also use a boost after a rough Vista launch and a failed bid to jumpstart its internet strategy by buying Yahoo. It's also because, well, the agency and client seemed like strange bedfellows: a shop known for its risk-taking creative executions paired with a fairly conservative client whose pedigree was in technology.

It's apparently just a "teaser ad," Brad Brooks, corporate VP-Windows consumer product marketing at Microsoft, said in a video interview on Microsoft's press site, about the first spot in a closely watched $300 million campaign. It is meant to "get the conversation going."

The spot ends with Mr. Seinfeld asking Mr. Gates for a sign that something new was coming. "Adjust your shorts," the comedian suggests. One very slight hip shimmy later and the ad was over.
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