There was high expectations for Jerry when he was picked by Crispin Porter + Bogusky to headline Microsoft’s $300 million dollar ad campaign this year. Last night during the NFL season opening, the first Microsoft ad debuted. Immediately it was copied from DVRs to Youtube and people began to comment – mostly negatively. I have found the negativity has come from a difference in expectation. Those who expected to see an ad that looked like the PC vs. Mac ads were disappointed. Those who thought the ad would have some mention of Vista or its benefits to mankind were also disappointed. And even still some who thought the ad would be at least funny were disappointed. This was not the point of the ad.
So what was the point of the ad? It was the first episode in a new type of sitcom, call it an advertising campaign with an overarching story line, an ad opera. What does an initial episode of any show do, be it LOST or All in the Family? It sets up the characters, defines the rules of the show, and sets a tone. This ad fit that mold to the T.
Character Setup: We see Bill Gates in a bargain shoe store. This is ironic since Bill is one of the richest men on the planet. Next Jerry Seinfeld walks up and discovers this irony and is compelled to find out more. He isn’t friends with Bill before this, but knows who he is, as most of us do. In the same way, Bill knows Jerry, but is not friends with him before this encounter.
Rules of the Show: Jerry respects Bill, but he’s not afraid to guide him and make suggestions. Bill is willing to accept these suggestions, but is still keeping his goals close to his vest. Its now Jerry’s job to slowly pry out what those goals are from Bill. He allows him to do this by “giving him a sign” so that Bill doesn’t have to break his own personal rules, but still satisfy Jerry’s desire for information – that same desire that sent Jerry into the shoe store in the first place.
Tone: The same running-gag motif (“conquistador”) and seemingly spontaneous interjection of random information (“I shower with my shoes on.”) ala Seinfeld, the television show, set the tone as one of humor – not humor about the differences in PCs and Apples, but in the differences in two millionaires in how they live their life, how they put on their shoes everyday, the same as everyone else ala Curb Your Enthusiasm.