The Extreme Makeover, Windows (R) Edition

September 2nd, 2008

Jerry SeinfeldDo you remember the last Microsoft ad you saw? Chances are, probably not. One of the largest advertising campaigns in Microsoft’s history will kick off next Wednesday, September 4 in an effort to get you thinking about (and hopefully buying) Windows. If this were any other ordinary advertising campaign, this wouldn’t be big news. But this is no ordinary campaign. Microsoft execs have finally realized that their most important, high-profile brand, Microsoft Windows, has taken a fairly large backseat to Apple. You may recall the successful – and funny – “Mac vs. PC” ads that frequently occupy commercial time. The ads do a decent job of making Microsoft and Windows look lame and boring next to Apple which is innovative, cool and hip.

From the iPod to the MacBook, Apple has outshone Microsoft in a huge way. Coupled with recent consumer disappointment around Windows Vista, the company is trying to make a broader appeal to consumers – essentially, it wants to be as hip and cool as Apple. So what is Microsoft doing to revamp their brand? They’ve announced they are going the celebrity route by hiring Jerry Seinfeld to become the face of the new campaign, “Windows, Not Walls.” Microsoft is hoping Seinfeld can help drive home the idea that the company is breaking down the barriers that prevent people and ideas from connecting.

Using a celebrity as a brand ambassador is certainly not a new concept – from cell phones to make-up to water, celebrity endorsements are everywhere. Celebrity endorsements can be a brand’s greatest asset or its worst nightmare. The best “celebrity as brand ambassador” agreements liken the product to the celebrity appeal factor. Though Seinfeld wrapped up its series back in 1998, Jerry Seinfeld is still very popular. While it remains to be seen if his celebrity status will resonate with the young college-aged generation that Apple appeals to, the Seinfeld camp has taken extra steps to close in on that market. Last week, Sony Pictures Television announced the Seinfeld Campus Tour, a national tour that will hit college campuses and national and local retail outlets across the country. To appeal even further to college kids, the Seinfeld Campus Tour has its own blog and is available on Facebook and MySpace.

Will Seinfeld help close the gap between Apple and Microsoft? Only time will tell. With his current celebrity status and his foray into appealing to a younger demographic, he might do just fine. I think the bigger question is that at the end of the day, can a celebrity really sway consumers into purchasing less exciting products than the competitor?



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