The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

It Isn’t Just Babies Or Gymnasts Who Can Put Their Foot In Their Mouth …
September 12, 2008, 7:24 am
Filed under: Comment

Baby caught with foot in mouth by tåc Photo: Tac

So I think there’s pretty much universal agreement that Microsoft’s new ad with Seinfeld and Gates is underwhelming to say the least …

Infact the only people who seem to like it are …

1/ Microsoft Senior Management
2/ Crispin’s
3/ The Boss of Landor NYC

And while I would expect the senior people at Microsoft and Crispin to say that [lets be honest, even if they hate it they’re not going to say anything negative because their jobs depend on it] it’s the guy from Landor who has really pissed me off.

According to this guy, the ad has done exactly what it was meant to achieve …

“Generate a level of buzz that normally cost billions of dollars to achieve”.




Apart from the fact this commercial cost MILLIONS OF DOLLARS to make … the belief that the World laughing AT YOU is still ‘positive’ is so stupid that it almost defies belief.

Yeah, I bet Gary Glitter is over-the-moon the World knows him as a peado – I bet his long term career prospects are looking real rosy!

How can someone say this? Especially someone who is supposedly a communication expert?

OK, so it’s obvious the sad bastard is doing all he can to get a chunk of Microsoft’s $US5 billion annual marketing budget, but does he realise how he is appearing to the Wider World.

Oh hang on, he doesn’t care – because he thinks all publicity is good publicity.

I can picture his pitch to Bill Gates right now …

“Hey Bill, that television ad was waaaaay funny but it still cost you guys a mighty chunk of change. I’ve got an idea that will get the World buzzing for absolutely nothing.

Yes nothing.

Zero. Free. Not a dime.


Of course you are.

OK people, this is what we do.

We get a video camera and tape Bill murdering some cute intern – big tits, tiny ass – by bashing her repeatedly over the head with some Microsoft Office packaging.

Then we load it up FOR FREE on this thing called YouTube … before sitting back and bathing in the billions of dollars of free corporate publicity.

How good is that eh?

Billions buzzing about Bill and Microsoft for nothing. Well, nothing and my billion dollar fee.

I think you’ll all agree that’s quite a genius idea and is a perfect example of the innovative branding solutions Landor can come up for you.

Have we got a deal?”
Mr. Potato Head by Abby Lanes A Landor Exec Walks Home

It’s this sort of attitude that makes a mockery of our industry … except he’s not really part of our industry is he, he’s a branding consultant … which means he somehow gets paid a fuckload more cash than the average ad agency for doing a fuckload less.

The World’s gone mad, seriously bonkers.

OK, so picking on some bloke from a corporate branding consultancy is abit unfair because the poor bastard hasn’t got a clue about the real World – but he started when he made with his stupid comments so I feel completely justified in pissing at his feet.

Oh, and before someone says Sunshine could be described as being something similar to Landor, I would like to say by that reckoning, HHCL was similar to GREY and we all know that in reality the only similarity was the number of letters in their name.

Sadly there are some companies who are seduced by agency ‘ego stroking’ … but as much as some people may think Microsoft are stupid, the fact is they’re not – they’re very smart – which is why Landor won’t ever [fingers crossed] see a dime of Bill Gates billions.

The thing is, whilst this ad is not good – and it’s really not – it’s not going to kill Microsoft.

Lets face it, they’ve been running crappy ads for decades and it’s not affected them. OK, so that’s because they have amazing distribution power, but we can’t forget they also make a few pretty decent products as well.

The fact is Microsoft defied big corporate company convention by walking away from a multinational agency and into the arms of a hungry, creative and pragmatic hotshop … so whilst Crispin’s may of screwed up with this initial commercial, their history shows they’ll more than likely make some magic pretty soon which is a good thing for everyone – especially me – because it means idiots like the guy at Landor will have to rethink their new business strategy from one of ‘corporate crawling’ into actually doing something interesting and powerful.

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It’s that whole “no publicity is bad publicity” thing isn’t it? These days with the web and the increasing power of the consumer, that attitude is just idiotic.

Comment by Age

You can take the boy out of cynic but you can’t take cynic out of the boy. We should have just called Sunshine cynic and been done with it. Excellent post, fair yet pragmatic. I hope the Landor executive is hanging his head in shame but I have serious doubts about that. At least Pete can show his face around here again. LOL.

Comment by George

Pete is still guilty George – we can’t let him get away with things that easily – what sort of precedent would that set for our future tea boy? 🙂

And you know why we couldn’t be cynic here – the Asian business landscape likes to pretend it’s all Disneyland – so by being Sunshine, we get in by being perceived all ‘nice, cuddly and friendly’ then sort them out with our cynic approved propriety process which I think is known by some by another name, EVIL, ha.

Comment by Rob

[…] It Isn’t Just Babies Or Gymnasts Who Can Put Their Foot In Their Mouth … Quote from this excellent post:" The fact is Microsoft defied big corporate company convention by walking away from a multinational agency and into the arms of a hungry, creative and pragmatic hotshop … so whilst Crispin’s may of screwed up with this initial commercial, their history shows they’ll more than likely make some magic pretty soon which is a good thing for everyone – especially me – because it means idiots like the guy at Landor will have to rethink their new business strategy from one of ‘corporate crawling’ into actually doing something interesting and powerful." (tags: Microsoft Gates Crispin Landor) […]

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Well , Microsoft did try by going to CP+B, glad you gave them credit for that, but after this fiasco, you think they’ll trust hot shops? or feel more comfortable with BDAs????

Comment by bhaskar

Apart from the fact I believe CP+B will sort out the frat boy indulgence bollocks they’ve just created – the reality is it would be too embarassing for either Microsoft and Crispin’s to walk away at this early point. Then there’s the fact Microsoft stuck with McCaan’s even though they produced a consistent stream of shit for years so I am pretty confident this situation will last for quite a while longer. Or until WPP/Publicis/IPG buy Crispin’s 🙂

Comment by Rob

well atleast Microsoft can define and benchmark ‘shit’ now

Comment by bhaskar

Hahaha, top point … they’ll probably introduce it as an update to Excel.

Comment by Robert

Bank days at Crispin’s then.

Comment by The Kaiser

If the cute girl with the big tits and the small ass was called a perky preppy name like “Apple” I think it would be much better 🙂

Comment by Patrick

You wrote this for me didn’t you Robert.

Comment by Lee Hill

I’ve written something for Lee too, haven’t I Rob.


Comment by Marcus

On my wall of quotes in the office, there is one of me saying yesterday “Bill Gates should be shot in the knackers with an air rifle”… that would be cheap publicity too.

Would make me feel better about the piece of shit that is Microsoft word as well.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

I knew you knew Lee …

I know you agree with what I’m saying too …

So can we have a more peaceful chat next time 🙂

And Marcus, you write posts that are applicable to everyone, not just Lee, which is why you’re so bloody good when you decide you want to be, ha.

In all seriousness, whenever I read one of your posts I think about that bit in ‘3 Men In A Boat’ where they say people who read medical dictionaries always think every ailment relates to them [except ‘water on the knee’ for some reason] and I’m sure that’s the same with your posts because it can be for something totally unrelated and yet it feels so close.

That’s skill. And evil. And I love it.

Comment by Rob

And it hasn’t generated billions of dolalrs worth of attention because the only people really talking about it are industry insiders. Real people don’t talk about bad ads.

Comment by John Dodds

Thanks Rob, that means a lot. And Lee, I didn’t really write the post for you – so don’t worry. I was just being cheeky.

BTW Mortimer has just done a very brave thing on my blog. I’m very proud of him.

Comment by Marcus

I don’t think its that brave!

Comment by Rob Mortimer

I do. And I’m proud of you.

Comment by Marcus

Not sure if Crispin will do something decent on Microsoft. They never did on NIKE until they went back to the warm bosom that is Wiedens. Only Crispin’s christmas greetings with that specially designed NIKE+ shoes was really good.
By the way this is no offence to Crispin. They are the agency of the decade. But they need clients as radical and brave as they are. And a look at good old Bill will reveal that Microsoft is not that kind of company. Unless it’s communication stuff for their X-Box.

Had a glance at the Landor website, as I never before heard that name. I bet Walter Landor would be pretty disappointed about what corporate toadies did with his company.

Comment by Seb

Real people don’t talk that much about good ads either John …

That doesn’t mean I’m saying ads don’t work – obviously they [can] do – I am just saying that people ‘talking’ about a commercial doesn’t always equate to sales success – just look at Guinness.

Sure infiltrating culture is a brilliant thing to achieve via communication – and I’ve been lucky with a few of my clients brands in achieving just that – but too many in adland seem to think the aim of communication is talkability however without it having a point or a purpose it’s more about indulgence than commercial benefit.

Mind you, given many companies use adland as a convienient exuse for their lack of innovation and/or vision, it’s not all our fault. Lets blame the guy at Landor – he deserves it 🙂

Comment by Rob

Landor were created to be a great company … Landor became a great company …
Landor sold to WPP …
Landor now has a stupid MD in their NYC office …

[Spot any theme here with other networks?]

And as much as the NIKE stuff Crispin’s did sucked dogs balls [don’t worry Pete, I know you’re innocent in that one] the fact is they weren’t exactly given time to develop their own take on the brand before it was taken back to its natural home.

Don’t get me wrong, WK’s work is consistently brilliant, however to say an agency should be judged on one campaign is pretty harsh – I’m sure you have had some work that has taken 2 or 3 bursts before it’s real power and potential came to the fore.

You should work in a record company Seb, they only allow people one chance to strike gold before they’re shipped off to the salt mines 🙂

Comment by Rob

And Mr M … maybe it’s not brave, but it is worthy of praise. Well done …

Comment by Rob

Haha thanks.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

It’s not that I think you need some time to get to know a brand and develop good stuff. It’s just that I think NIKE and WK is one happy marriage. With WK as the wonderful and adorabla wife and Crispin as the blonde girl with big tits almost wearing nothing. Apart from being absolutely impartial as you can see, I think even for a first shot it was pretty weak. As if GREY had been doing work for them. Even for a first shot I would have expected much more of Crispin.

Comment by Seb

My first sentence is missing a “don’t” before that “think”. And by the way: a running Neanderthal man for NIKE was done 20 years before CP+B. And it’s considered as the worst thing Dan Wieden has ever done. Don’t get me wrong: I really like CPB. Kiss, kiss, hug, hug.

Comment by Seb

I must admit I was surprised when Crispin got NIKE because like you, I always saw them as the perfect marriage … which is why I’d love to know the real reason behind the move. Did they really want Crispin or was it to simply inject abit of spark back into the relationship.

Maybe there’s an idea in that Seb, ‘brand swapping’ … where for one month you change agency/client, mess about and then realise it was nicer where you were and go back feeling rather disgusted with yourself.

Comment by Rob

still think my marriage analogy was drug infused he Rob!! Brand Swapping, relationship..oh we will deff meet some day, in front of judge Judy mate, Judy…

Comment by the six star general

Yes I did realise that when I wrote it – but hey, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Well that’s my excuse for now 🙂

Comment by Rob

So I am your vicarious drug habit?

Welcome to the gutter Rob, hope you brought your Wellies, car stereo’s and aluminum foil 😉

Comment by Mr Rothstein

is buzz worth millions these days? surely sales are worth millions. and respect/awe/honour/inspiration/joy/delight are worth pretty close to that. buzz is just an annoying noise that you need a fly swat for.

then again, given that cannes gave fallon a gold thing for a drumming gorilla, maybe this IS good advertising and we’re all from an alternate universe.

Comment by lauren

[…] Zudem muss es doch auch mal Marken geben, die es nicht nötig haben auf Teufelkommraus herumzualbern und mit Lachern aus der abgelaufenen Konserve um Aufmerksamkeit buhlen. Es muss auch Marken geben, die genau das authentisch vertreten, was sie am Ende auch wirklich sind oder vielmehr auch wirklich sein könnten. Das muss ganz bestimmt nicht langweilig geschehen und Humor ist dabei auch kein Tabu. Ich glaube mittlerweile sind sogar diese Videos immer noch die besten “Ads” von Microsoft – eben weil sie authentisch sind und eben weil sie auch ein Stück weit die klassische Käuferschicht ansprechen (Merke: Ohne Empathie, da auch kein Fremdscham). Aber bei diesen Meisterwerken sagt natürlich kein oberschlauer Berater, dass diese Spots schon allein deshalb genial sind, weil Microsoft dadurch immensen kostenlosen Buzz bekommen hat. Nö, sowas sagt er natürlich nur, wenn seine eigenen Spots zerrissen werden. […]

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Sorry I’m late to the game but I’ve just written a post disagreeing with you on this one. I know you can take it 😉

But seriously I have spoken to you about where I think Microsoft is as a brand, and I would have done it different if I was planning it but having seen the work it’s great. I think it’s naieve of avertising to hope for a piece of film that stirs the embers of MS brand dormancy. But anyway I’ve written about it over at mine.

Are you in the UK? I’ve had a twitter that Neil is wearing the exact shirt you’ve posted on above. You must be unless he’s taking pics and sending them.

Comment by Charles Frith

Of course I can take it … and I know you can because I could not disagree with you more. Plus I DO think advertising could create a message that stirs the embers of Microsoft’s dormancy – and whilst I know it would/will take more than one ad – the whole premise of this communication just smacks of a client and agency missing the point – which has probably been influenced by some fundamental misunderstandings about focus group comments regarding the Mac vs PC ads.

[I talk about this over at Dodds site so go over there to disagree with me again, haha]

And no I’m not in the UK, I sent Neil that evil shirt because he casually mentioned he quite liked it – and now he has seen how horrible it is ‘in the flesh’, the daft-but-lovely bugger has decided to wear it for the wider World. The mad fool.

[And has anyone actually asked ‘why does MS have to actually advertise?’ Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate changing market dynamics are potentially changing technology industry business models, but even then – does Microsoft need to do any of this versus address some key issues in their bloated organisation?]

Now enough of that – how are you and where are you?

Comment by Rob

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