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Microsoft Breaks Up with Seinfeld

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But claims ads were intentionally obnoxious, ineffective.

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Maybe the accusations that Microsoft (MSFT) is out of touch were incorrect all along. It would certainly explain their latest move.

Yes, those long, meandering ads featuring Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld oddly chatting about everything but computers have been put to rest after only 2 weeks. But the company is not ruling out a future ad with the observational comedian during their $300 million "revitalizing" campaign.

Given the response to the first 2 spots, maybe it's best to cut the losses and leave him be.

The new wave of ads -- dubbed "Phase 2" -- will take Apple's (AAPL) popular "I'm a PC vs. I'm a Mac" commercials head-on. One such spot directly targets the Apple ad by using a Microsoft engineer who bears a striking resemblance to John Hodgman - the Daily Show correspondent who plays the downtrodden PC character. He grumbles, "Hello, I'm a PC and I've been made into a stereotype."

While "stodgy and unhip" was one such stereotype, now it seems "uncreative" would be another.

Although the change in campaign tactics would be a smart move for Microsoft, the immediate shift into the new style without a graceful transition has some doubting if it was truly the plan all along - and not a hasty attempt to get rid of Seinfeld.

In a delightfully dubious case of marketing spin, Microsoft spokesperson Frank Shaw claims that the first 2 Seinfeld ads were merely a "teaser" for the rest of the campaign. He says, "Very soon, the campaign will turn toward communicating specifically about the Windows brand and the products that carry the Windows flag."

Who knew advertising an actual product would be a tall order for Microsoft?

An internal company Microsoft memo seems to echo Shaw's talking points. It reads, "Think of these [Seinfeld] ads as an icebreaker to reintroduce Microsoft to viewers in a consumer context."

The company soon realized that presenting Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld -- two men who could buy and sell the state of Rhode Island a thousand times over -- as ordinary mall-walkers was surprisingly ineffective.

Whether or not the new line of commercials was planned, Shaw claimed that nearly two-thirds of the blog posts and comments about the ads were positive, though it's unclear where in God's green earth he got those figures. But he tipped his hand by saying, "People would have been happier if everyone loved the ads, but this was not unexpected."

Maybe they should've went with Ray Romano. The young people just love him.
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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