Microsoft will move to the second phase of its advertising campaign tomorrow with adverts that respond more directly to Apple’s sleazy “I’m a Mac” campaign. The New York Times says:
The campaign, which begins Thursday and carries the theme “Windows. Life without walls,” will move away from the enigmatic teaser commercials that featured Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld in offbeat conversations about shopping, shoes, suburbia and the potential of computing to improve life. The teaser ads have generated considerable discussion since they started on Sept. 4, not all of it positive.
According to the story:
One new Microsoft commercial even begins with a company engineer who resembles John Hodgman, the comedian portraying the loser PC character in the Apple campaign. “Hello, I’m a PC,” the engineer says, echoing Mr. Hodgman’s recurring line, “and I’ve been made into a stereotype.”
This goes against the conventional wisdom in ad-land: “A giant advertiser responding to the disparagement of a smaller rival can be fraught with peril. Consumers may see it as a validation of the claims, or even bullying. On the other hand, ignoring the taunts can damage images and sales.”
However: “The strategy to use the Apple attack as the basis for a counterstrike is typical for the agency behind the campaign, Crispin Porter & Bogusky,” says The New York Times.
Whether the Seinfeld ads worked is another matter — they didn’t make a lot of sense to me — but so far there is no evidence that any have been “cancelled” or “dropped”. Also, Ted Marzilli from YouGovPolimetrix, a research company, says the teaser ads were followed by a shift in “buzz” about Microsoft from 25% positive/13% negative to 28%/8%. “These are strong numbers, good numbers, for Microsoft,” he told the NYT.
Zeta Interactive’s Relevant Noise made the score 63% positive/37% negative.
When the campaign started, Microsoft’s Bill Veghte told staff that the Seinfeld ads were simply an “icebreaker”:
This first set of ads features Bill Gates and comedian Jerry Seinfeld. Think of these ads as an icebreaker to reintroduce Microsoft to viewers in a consumer context. Later this month, as the campaign moves into its next phase, we’ll go much deeper in telling the Windows story and celebrating what it can do for consumers at work, at play and on-the-go.
Celebrities featured in “phase 2” include actress Eva Longoria, author Deepak Chopra and singer Pharrell Williams, but lots more Microsoft staff and ordinary users.
The “phase 2” website at lifewithoutwalls.com will enable users to “upload video clips and photographs demonstrating how they, too, are PCs.”