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Microsoft mojo deflated by Seinfeld Vista ads

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Jerry Seinfeld hasn’t recorded a fresh edition of his eponymous sitcom in eleven years. Yet the once wildly-popular show about nothing has lived on, zombie-like, in the twilight world of US cable syndication and Microsoft Windows Vista adverts.

Guess which is the more successful.

A Seinfeld-fronted TV ad, part of a series that reportedly cost Microsoft $10m and also featured Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, “failed miserably” in its goal according to the New York Times.

“After seeing the ad, both Apple and Microsoft users had a more negative perception of Microsoft in the areas of innovation, technology, trouble-free design, and warranty and pricing,” the Times wrote.

The report is based on a survey of 400 Microsoft and Apple Mac users who’d seen the ads. It was conducted by Brand Keys to measure peoples’ perceptions of the companies.

“When you see an ad perform this poorly,” Brand Keys executive vice president Amy Shea told the Times, “you’ve got a real problem.” The ads were part of a $300m Microsoft campaign devised by oh-so-hot ad agency Crispin Porter and Bogusky.

Microsoft scored better with its “I’m a PC” riff on Apple’s “I’m a Mac, and I’m a PC” TV ads. The ads lifted PC users’ perception of the brand as technologically and environmentally advanced, the Times wrote.

Whether feeling fuzzy about a brand translates into sales is another matter. Both companies saw challenges for their respective Windows and Mac platforms during the most recent quarter. Revenue from Windows fell eight per cent for Microsoft, inline with crashing PC sales, while Mac sales grew nine per cent — although this was driven by laptops as desktops fell 21 per cent. ®

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