Most of us have seen many of Apple’s highly effective television commercials which picture the Mac, played by a subtly hip Justin Long, and the PC, played by bumbling buffoon John Hodgeman.
Microsoft’s Bill Gates hired former Mac user Jerry Seinfeld to make Microsoft seem hip and cool. Did it work? In a word, no. But there’s more to it than that.
Apple’s television commercials pitting the ineffectual Hodgeman (PC) against the affable Long (Mac) evoke a sense of Wile E. Coyote vs. the Road Runner. Inept and incompetent meet pleasant and comfortable.
In the end, the PCs reputation for everything from security to bugs to lack of chic is denigrated, while the Mac’s understated elegance and apparent simple competence is enhanced.
The PC is bad, the Mac is cool.
So, what does Microsoft do? For years, nothing. Now the Redmond, WA sleeping giant is awakening. Or, so they would have television viewers believe.
Microsoft hired Jerry Seinfeld to help tidy up the software behemoth’s lumbering persona. Seinfeld, if you recall, often featured Macs in his New York apartment. Seinfeld is cool and hip, therefore the Mac is cool and hip.
Seinfeld’s venture to help Bill Gates and Microsoft polish their respective images works, though not in the expected way.
In the first of a few television commercials, Seinfeld plays himself, and Bill Gates plays himself. They meet at a shoe store in a shopping mall and Seinfeld helps Gates pick out a pair of shoes that fit. Size 10.
There’s not much insinuation that Microsoft’s Windows is better than a Mac and OS X. There’s no feature comparison. There’s no mention of the Mac at all.
Instead, Jerry Seinfeld plays himself and remains cool and hip with it; pretty much like the Seinfeld character.
Remarkably, Microsoft’s Bill Gates does not come across as a twisted, evil dweeb, but as mildly hip himself, his own reputation perhaps polished and shined up a bit.
In all, the television commercials featuring Seinfeld and Gates are mostly benign and don’t harm wildlife or competition. They also do absolutely nothing for Microsoft or Windows Vista, therefore do nothing to help turn the tide of switchers going from PCs to Macs.
What do you think? Does Apple have anything to fear from Bill Gates polishing up his public persona and reputation before he rides off into the sunset? Share your view in the Comments section below.