After two ads, Microsoft has dragged Jerry Seinfeld behind the shed. What happened back there, no one knows, but sources say that there was the recitation of a mildly amusing nasal monologue ( “Say, what’s the deal with hog slaughtering tubs?”), the sound of thrashing and then sudden silence. Good riddance.
This is the new advertisement campaign: “I’m a PC.” I thought this was going to be awful: on the surface of things, a John Hodgman look-alike is such a creatively bereft idea that I wondered how Microsoft could not realize that such an ad was an admission that Apple had won.
But Microsoft’s done something clever here. The Hodgman doppelganger is just the scene setter, a tacit acknowledgement of Apple’s campaign while, simultaneously, being an implicit observation that in Apple’s ads, the PC is portrayed by the hipper, smarter guy. The ad then quickly flutters through dozens of PC users: from adorably gawky schoolgirls in Africa to astronauts and famous celebrities. A sea of cool, creative, innovative and intelligent people who — with few exceptions — do far more to improve the world than the insufferable Justin Long.
It falls apart in the last ten seconds: some pretentious egghead mumbles something about “not being a human thinking or doing, but a human being.” He then leans back in his chair, a wash of smugness inflating his face, as if this were a fact to be proud of. Does Microsoft really want to conflate the mere, passive act of existing with its operating system? “Hey, just like Windows, existing’s basically all I ever do anymore!”
But that sort of meaningless pretentiousness can be preened out in future ads. This is a great Parthian shot at Apple… a year and a half too late, alas. The message is clear: “Yeah, I’m a PC. So fucking what, asshole?” Microsoft should have been saying this all along.