People at Microsoft that I trust are saying that it has absolutely, positively, definitely (really) always been the plan to have Seinfeld appear in just the first few warm up commercials for their $300 million Vista ad campaign, and then move on to the meat of the messaging. And I believe them, with the appropriate wiggle room (like if the ads were super well received, they may have exercised an option to keep him longer, etc.).
But either way, Seinfeld is out, at least for now, after three controversial commercials (first, second and third). Microsoft won’t confirm Seinfeld’s rumored $10 million fee one way or the other. And they say he may be back later in the campaign.
But starting tomorrow the ads go on, without Seinfeld.
Behind these advertisements is the advertising agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky, which Fast Company said is “is famous for pushing clients to the edge.” The firm did amazing work for Volkswagon, Burger King and others (and the subservient chicken remains awesome).
But their 2007 work for Ask.com was really just exceptionally bad. The company budgeted a $100 million to a campaign that included strippers with swords (here’s the video), urine-themed display ads, and the Unabomber.
Not only were the ads bad, they didn’t generate any traffic for Ask. The campaign was terminated just $15 million in, says one person with knowledge of the relationship.
The Microsoft ads aren’t as patently offensive as the work produced for Ask, but they did go out of their way to highlight the fact that the company was out of touch with consumers.
Bill Gates: Why are we doing this again?
Jerry Seinfeld: Why Bill? Because as we discussed, you and i are a little out of it. You’re living in some kinda moon house hovering over Seattle like the mothership. I’ve got so many cars I get stuck in my own traffic. We need to connect with real people.
Microsoft says that they’re sticking with Crispin and that the advertisements are going exactly as planned. I can’t wait to see what comes next.