Seinfeld: The Right Man for Microsoft

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Anthony Harvey / Reuters

Perhaps I'm crazy, but I think Jerry Seinfeld might well be the perfect pitch man for Microsoft's Vista. Quit smirking and look at the evidence: twenty-four hours after the Wall Street Journal broke the story, which said that Microsoft was paying the vintage, 1990s-sitcom star $10 million to plug its beleaguered operating system, the story was referred to more than 650 times, from one end of the media spectrum to the other. You can't buy publicity like that, which, of course, wasn't lost on Crispin Porter + Bogusky, the all-kinds-of-awesome ad agency behind the $300-million Microsoft campaign.

Either people still love Jerry, or they're slowing down to rubberneck at a terrible mishap, I guess. Either way, the first ad, which debuts Sept. 4, is already working. Seinfeld, reportedly, will appear along side Microsoft founder Bill Gates in ads that will try to counteract the ultra-cool Apple ads (featuring Justin Long and John Hodgman). Gates can be hi-larious in videos, and I guess, if you can't line up Napoleon Dynamite star Jon Heder, Seinfeld is the next best thing.

Still, online and elsewhere, the news was met with derision. Why, the armchair analysts wonder, would Microsoft turn to a guy who was a hit as recently as, er, 1998? (And who ruled the airwaves for the decade preceding that?) Is Microsoft indeed trying to harken back to a time when Windows was king, Google was a nonsense word and Apple was on the verge of extinction? And doesn't this show that Microsoft is out of touch with today's culture?

To which I say: So what? Surely you don't think the kids of today are going to be buying Vista. Within a few years, operating systems will pretty much disappear — or at least be something that consumers won't think about when they buy always-on, Internet-connected devices. The operating system will be about as interesting for buyers to contemplate as the power supply. So why bother raising Vista awareness among anyone older than, say, 21? Seinfeld really hits the sweet spot for this demographic. Not that there's anything wrong with that.