John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Which Do You Like Better, Steve: “No Mac for You!” or “Vista–Not That There’s Anything Wrong With That”?

The success of Windows is our number one job. With SP1 and the work we’ve done with PC manufacturers and our software ecosystem, we’ve addressed device and application compatibility issues in Windows Vista. Now it’s time to tell our story. In the weeks ahead, we’ll launch a campaign to address any lingering doubts our customers may have about Windows Vista. And later this year, you’ll see a more comprehensive effort to redefine the meaning and value of Windows for our customers.”

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, July 23, 2008

So Microsoft’s widely publicized “edgy” ad campaign, the one designed to counter the Apple (AAPL) ads that have so eroded its brand, is to feature Jerry Seinfeld as celebrity pitchman. And in many ways that does more to illustrate the sad differences between the two companies than the “Mac vs. PC” ads it’s designed to combat. Because Microsoft (MSFT) has chosen as quarterback for this campaign a tired ’90s sitcom star who not only used a Mac in the series that made him famous, but closed out Apple’s 1997 “Crazy Ones” ad–which, ironically, aired only once, during the series finale of “Seinfeld.”

So Microsoft, in an effort to overhaul its image and upstage the cool kids down in Cupertino, seems to have done little but confirm the message of its rival’s ads: “I’m a Mac, You’re a Dork,” or, in this case, a dated comedian. Really, the company might as well have hired Don Rickles for the job. Certainly, he would have come cheaper than the $10 million Seinfeld is rumored to have demanded. And there’s life left yet in that “What are you lookin’ at, you hockey puck?!” line of his.

Anyway, in the end, it’s not marketing that’s the issue here. It’s the product.