Do a quick trawl through Microsoft advertising history and you find something interesting: as weird as the Gates/Seinfeld comedy duo Microsoft ads are—weird enough to get them set aside for the "I'm a PC" campaign—they're just following in the footsteps of earlier ads. Check out this one, dubbed "Soar," for Windows XP: what does it tell you about the software's capability? Not much. But the Madonna sound track isn't too shabby, and apparently using Windows can make you fly. Hmmm, that's pretty odd... but then there are even more obscure ones.
"Everybody is looking for the door to the new economy. But actually, it's a window." That Windows 2000 ad tagline has a bit of punch, and was pretty timely back then. But there's a guy crashing a tractor into a tin shack (oh, the irony), there're chickens and (just what every good computer advert needs): a bleating lamb. That's way more confusing than Windows-induced flying.
No lambs in this Windows 95 ad...but we do get a leaping tiger, and fast cuts of wrinkly old men and smiling kids interspersed with glimpses of hot spreadsheet and Word document action. I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do with what this ad's telling me: should I go out and make trouble? Or "just do something amazing" since, after all..."this stuff is powerful." The flight-sim glimpse of the Twin Towers is just an unfortunate coincidence, but adds to the shower of strange imagery.
And then there's this one. Okay, so it's for Office XP, but it's glorious, and the best of the bunch.Microsoft taking the mickey (albeit gently) out of the moments when its own security techniques get right on your tits *ahem*.
So, do you feel better about Gates and Seinfeld now? I actually like those ads, weirdness included. Ditto for the "I'm a PC" one, complete with Deepak Chopra's insightful ramblings. They tell me nothing, nada, zip about Microsoft products...but they're just brand adverts, and they make me laugh. And they're right in line with Microsoft's advertising heritage. [Microsoft]