Microsoft has decided to dump Jerry Seinfeld in its $300 million dollar ad campaign, with Microsoft saying it was the plan all along. In it's place? A new "I'm a PC" response to the now famous "I'm a Mac" ads from Apple.
Reaction to the first set of ads has been mixed. Some industry analysts have said that Microsoft was basically throwing away their money and that the company should be directly attacking Apple and the Mac. Others have been more positive saying that the ads were humorous and that their purpose was less about showing off Windows and more about laying the groundwork for humanizing the company and its chairman.
The new campaign, set to start today, will still carry the "Windows, Life without Walls" idea that Microsoft has been talking about for a while. One of the new spots will feature a company engineer who closely resembles John Hodgman, the comedian who plays the PC in Apple's campaign. "Hello, I'm a PC," the engineer says, echoing Mr. Hodgman's recurring line, "and I've been made into a stereotype."
Updated: Gizmodo is reporting that a source at Crispin Porter, the ad firm behind Microsoft's latest blitz, has said that the Seinfield-Gates ads are not cancelled, however, Microsoft did request that the "I'm a PC" spots become the new focus. They're saying "Crispin Porter has another completed spot featuring the lovable, affluent couple in the can, ready to air (even though it won't quite yet)."
60 other Microsoft employees will also be featured in the ads, including their email addresses. The new ads will also feature Bill Gates, actress Eva Longoria, author Deepak Chopra and singer Pharrell Williams. It's not clear if Seinfeld will be back for any future ads, but the company left the option open.
But the real focus of the new ads will be regular users. Scientists, fashion designers, shark hunters and teachers, all bursting with pride to say "I'm a PC." Thursday night, visitors to windows.com will be able to upload video clips and photographs demonstrating how they, too, are PCs. The user contributed content may be used in future Microsoft ads.
Will this new campaign serve to help build trust in the company and their products, or has too much damage been done by the months of unanswered hammering by Apple? The "I'm a Mac" ads have done their job, there is no questioning that. Recent reports have put Apple's market share near 10% of the personal computer market. Will these new ads from Microsoft significantly put a dent in that share? Probably not, but it may help stop the bleeding.
Currently, windows.com still features the last Seinfeld-Gates ad.