For years Apple fans have lamented that the Mac commercials never really showed how much easier, faster or more fun a Mac can be. Yet somehow Apple's advertisements have always struck a chord and are listed time and again as some of the best in the world. "1984", "Think different." even "I'm a Mac" are edgy, different and compelling. They tell a story. People listen.
But look at the $300 million dollar Microsoft ad blitz. Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld? Just the chance pairing is unlikely, let alone a set (or a reported trio that was immediately canceled) of 90 second commercials that say nothing about Microsoft and do nothing to help the brand. Now they've tried to run their own "I'm a PC" ads which only come off as stiff, no content remnants of other people's advertisements. No storytelling, no conclusion, no real value at all. Certainly nothing for Microsoft to feel proud about.
Can't help but say this, those ads are kinda like a PC. Boring, beige, and unremarkable.
Microsoft - here's a hint: Make your ads irreverent, not irrelevant. Tell the truth, don't take a tone. And above all, feel free to spend $299 Million on your television ads but save $1M for the bloggers who can help you rise above the noise while making some of your own. And no, creating 4 minute versions of your TV ads does not qualify as good web 2.0 marketing.
UPDATE: Sept 22 - Looks like the New York Times is asking people for their own suggestions for good Vista ads.