Todd Bishop gets to the bottom of it with David Webster, our Brand GM.
Look, we get a lot of crap for our advertising. I know this. Some deserved, some not. But I totally got the Seinfeld ads and I thought they were funny. I can understand that people have differing ideas of what is funny. But also, I think that some people have a very limited understanding of the sales cycle. They think you make a product, you advertise a product, and then people buy it. And whoah, hey, those Seinfeld ads aren't telling you to buy a product. What the?
So let me say this: my understanding of this space is influenced by the fact that I used to support these guys; marketing, for several Microsoft organizations, including our central Marketing Group. And for me, in order to find and screen prospects, I did kind of dive into marketing a bit. Because you can't really evaluate marketing talent without an understanding of marketing. I'm not a marketer by any means. And the more marketing candidates I spoke to, the more I learned. But nobody had to tell me that marketing aint so simple. Case in point: why does Microsoft let me blog like this as part of my job? And even say that we make mistakes unlike the blogs of a number of other folks in corporate staffing at large companies. You know the blogs I am talking about. The ones that make you throw up in your mouth a little. Do not link to those blogs, Heather...do not link to those blogs. And see? I am not asking you to buy anything. I'm not urging you to apply for jobs. I think you get what I am talking about.
I think that the fact that I liked the Gates-Seinfeld ads is also influenced by my life outlook (yeah, I am totally weaving Buddhist philosophy into this discussion). Aside from my love for WTF humor (oops, not Buddhist), I don't need to understand the end-game. Why are we here and where did we come from? Who cares...we are here. What is the point of the Seinfeld ads? Who cares....they are funny.
I'll admit that I could tell that they were intended as an engagement point with consumers. I knew the intent was brand-building (for better or worse, in the eyes of those consumers). And I knew that getting people talking was the point. But obviously, I work here, so I know a bit more about our past marketing strategy, where so much of our focus was on the enterprise (as we call it). So I can see where we needed some advertising that got some attention (hello consumers!) and made no sense (please...discuss). There were some aspects of those ads that I don't love. Like the shoe store set up: good one liners but a lot of fluff about shoes that isn't funny. On the other hand, I do want my computer to be made of cake. just sayin'. And the ones about living with a family (ad 2 and short..let's see if I got that right)? Love them. Sorry, I do. But perhaps that is because I have a leather giraffe that has been in my family for 6 years. Six!
Anyway, the Webster post on Todd Bishops blog gives a more articulate and deeper explanation of what the thinking was behind those ads.