Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT ) is killing the Jerry Seinfeld ads. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
The software giant is reportedly moving away from its odd and costly ads starring Seinfeld and Bill Gates. As the initial attack in its alleged $300 million marketing campaign to make Microsoft hip again, the series of televised spots got consumers talking about Microsoft. Unfortunately, they weren't talking about Mr. Softy in a good way.
The widely panned ads, in which Seinfeld and Gates shopped for discount shoes and joined a suburban family for table tennis and scalloped potatoes, did little to further Microsoft's cause. The commercials went over about as well as the Seinfeld series finale: well-watched, but poorly reviewed.
Microsoft has two mortal enemies right now: Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) and Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) . Since Apple is attacking Microsoft's Windows Vista operating system directly in its ads, it makes sense to go after Apple first. We all know Microsoft will eventually have to gun for Google, but for now, those darn "I'm a Mac, I'm a PC in a pizza box" ads are hurting Microsoft more than viral remix videos of Steve Ballmer doing his infamous developer dance.
We can't call the Seinfeld ads a failure until we see how the entire campaign plays out. Perhaps it was a startling way to get the public's attention, laying the groundwork for Microsoft to show how Windows-powered Dell (Nasdaq: DELL ) and Hewlett Packard (NYSE: HPQ ) machines are more cost effective than Apple systems, or how comparison-shopping through Microsoft's Live.com can result in cash rebates. If so, Microsoft wins, and the untimely demise of the Seinfeld-Gates ads is just a sacrificial offering to ensure future gains.
With a new Windows platform on the way, and the company doing cool things like delivering Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX ) rentals into your Xbox 360, maybe Microsoft was cool all along. It may have just needed a misstep by two rich, bumbling nerds to help the company find its footing.