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Seinfeld to do Microsoft ads? Get out!

Comedian Jerry Seinfeld

TEXT OF STORY

Kai Ryssdal: There's word today Microsoft is going to start working on its image problem, because it's not the hippest company around, you know. [Clip from the Apple TV commercial plays.] If the way to win over consumers is through comedy, the Wall Street Journal reported today that Microsoft's new strategy might just work. Marketplace's Jeremy Hobson has the story.


Jeremy Hobson: Microsoft isn't commenting, but the figure being thrown around is $300 million for the whole re-branding campaign. $10 million of that is said to be on its way to this guy:

Jerry Seinfeld [clip]: HELLLLLOOOOOOOO. [audience laughter]

Comedian and 1990s sitcom star Jerry Seinfeld. He's been a pitchman for American Express, and he had the lead in "Bee Movie." But some don't think he can make Microsoft cool again or counteract the negative image of its operating system, Windows Vista.

Aram Sinnreich: I just don't understand who are the ad wizards that thought this one up.

That's Aram Sinnreich at Radar Research.

Sinnreich: You couldn't really find a more expensive way to brand yourself as the premier company of the 1990s.

Not that there's anything wrong with that ... But Sinnreich says Microsoft should be targetting young computer geeks to build buzz. And branding expert Marc Gobe says "old fashioned fun" is the wrong emotion for a technology product.

Marc Gobe: The expectation of the public for Microsoft is to be technology-sexy brand. You know the type of brand that can stimulate your thinking and can show you the future.

Of course, Microsoft would prefer if the future looks like the present. Windows is on nine out of 10 computers, says Forrester research analyst J.P. Gownder.

J.P. Gownder: Nevertheless, even though Microsoft is in this great position financially and in terms of marketshare, they've been suffering at the hands of, in particular, Apple.

And it should be noted that on the show, Jerry Seinfeld had a Mac.

I'm Jeremy Hobson for Marketplace.

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