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The Marketplace Reader

Bad buzz on Seinfeld and Gates ad

Lori Stassi Sep 8, 2008
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Microsoft’s new commercial with Jerry Seinfeld isn’t exactly drawing rave reviews. Here are a few of the headlines:

Critics Say Gates-Seinfeld Duo No Laughing Matter
(Wall Street Journal)
You Thought Vista Was Bad?
(the Information Week blog)
Microsoft’s new Seinfeld and Gates ad is beyond bad
(Detroit Free Press)

Yikes! The commercial, which has Seinfeld helping Bill Gates buy shoes, made its first appearance during an NFL game on Thursday. As Marketplace reported on August 21, the ad is part of a $300 million re-branding campaign meant to give Microsoft a cooler image and counteract the negative reputation of its Vista operating system.

To be fair, a number of the commercial’s critics complained that it makes no mention of Vista, but that was intentional. The ad’s creators thought it would create buzz on its own without mentioning any products. And let’s face it, it did that. Even bad buzz is buzz.

Which is what Bill Veghte, senior vice president of Microsoft’s Windows and online services business, told Wall Street Journal Friday. Veghte said “the first commercial was a “conversation starter, an ice breaker” that will be followed by further ads. He declined to describe them, the Journal said. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

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