Go Back   Sports Car Forum - MotorWorld.net > Hobbies and Leisure Time > Computers, Consoles, Gadgets And Gizmos

Thread Tools Display Modes
Prev Previous Post   Next Post Next
Old 09-08-2008, 01:15 PM   #1
Regular User
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: The OC™
Posts: 4,881
Default Microsoft's confusing ad with Jerry Seinfeld and even more mind boggling analysis

Dissecting Microsoft’s Seinfeld ad
Business and Law
By Rick C. Hodgin, Wolfgang Gruener
Friday, September 05, 2008 16:34

Analysis – “I don’t get it” was the answer we most often heard today when we asked people what they thought about Microsoft’s first Seinfeld ad that aired yesterday. Producing commercials is an art o skewing of perception, transporting underlying messages and achieve effective comprehension. So we thought about it and found at least 17 possible messages packed into a 90 second commercial. Some of them being funny, some very intelligent, some controversial, some boring and some may even be considered very disturbing. Join us for a journey on taking this commercial apart, piece by piece.

The team at Microsoft's marketing division has developed and released the first of several upcoming commercials, entitled Shoe Circus, designed to take on the successful and long running Mac ads from Apple. In Apple's ads, two pithy contemporaries, personified Mac and PC characters, battle it out in some clever ways, while the Mac persona usually has an unfair advantage.

The ultimate goal of all this demonstrates that Apple can best PC in just about every way, making PC look foolish, slow and generally something less than desirable. We had high hopes for the Gates-Seinfeld commercial, despite our doubts that Seinfeld is the right character. You may think the outcome is great or you may think it is a flop. But if there is anything we can agree on then it is certainly the fact that it is one of most complex commercials made in recent history in terms of the underlying messages. So we sat down and began translating it.

Advice: You may want to watch the commercial several times yourself and try to detect all those subtle hints.

Warning: We may interpret much more into this commercial than what really is in there. But commercials are about perception, right?

The scene opens with Jerry Seinfeld opening a Churro and catching a glimpse of Bill Gates inside the “Shoe Circus” store working with one of the staff members. Jerry is surprised to see Gates in there and looks up at the store sign reading its caption, "Shoe Circus, quality shoes at discount prices. Why pay more?" Then he looks back inside and sees Gates standing there and questions, "Bill Gates?" and then takes a bite of his churro and heads inside determined. Gates sees Seinfeld and says, "Jerry Seinfeld."

We are introduced to two celebrities, the Shoe Circus, a sales person and a churro. The churro recurs throughout the commercial and ends the ad as well. The story seems to be tied very close to the closing caption, which reads "The Future ... DELICIOUS ... [Windows Logo]". So, we're left with the idea that the churro is a constant reminder of something that's delicious. This fact is further reinforced by the fact that Seinfeld offers Gates his churro when he comes in the store. Gates says "I'm good".

The scene is set for two celebrities who pose as normal people and a fancy Mac store (shoe store). And the audience is ensured that there is a real celebrity, Jerry Seinfeld, for which Microsoft obviously shelled out big bucks.

Chapter 1: The bad shoe
Gates is talking to the store clerk and says, "the left one is a little tight," to which the store clerk responds, "it will stretch," assuredly. Seinfeld asks questioningly with his mouth full of churro, "you sure it will stretch?" The shoe is introduced as a product that is inconvenient and limited in terms of changes.

The next scene has Seinfeld on the floor in place of the store clerk helping Gates with his shoes. He feels something at the tip of the shoe Gates has on his right foot and says, "is that your toe?" Gates replies, "no." "What is it?" asks Seinfeld. "Leather" replies Gates. And then there is an awkward silence between them for literally four seconds as they both nod at each other. This scene was particularly difficult to analyze. What could it mean?

If we accept the supposition that these Microsoft ads are in response to Mac's ads, then we can conclude that there would be some comparison between Microsoft and Apple products taking place. The Shoe Circus could represent a Mac store. The ineffectual store clerk could represent the Mac clerks (genuises??) who may or may not be able to help you. And the lack of any "meat" inside of the shoe could refer to the Mac itself. It just has a package, albeit leather, but there's no meat or bones inside.

Also note the signs “Why pay more?” throughout the store in the background, a hint to the prices of Apple products.

Chapter 2: With a little help from your friend
The next scene has Seinfeld grabbing a shoe off the rack saying, "He is a Conquistador. They run very tight," as he is seen bending the shoe. He asks Gates to grab the other one and do as he is doing while saying, "You know what I do? I wear them in the shower. You ever wear clothes in the shower, Bill?" Gates replies kind of looking at Seinfeld oddly, "never." Seinfeld says, "You're dressed and you’re clean. Open the door go about your business."

There are two things here which seem to jump out. Conquistador means "conqueror". He grabs the conqueror from the shelf and then has to spend a lot of energy breaking it in and getting it just right. The next 14 seconds in the commercial are devoted to scenes with Gates and Seinfeld breaking in the shoe. The translation: Obviously, the ad pokes fun at the fancy names of Apple products, products that need to be bent, but eventually won’t fit anyway, since you have to wear them under the shower, i.e. have to use them under certain restrictions given to you.

The "You're dressed and you’re clean. Open the door go about your business." quote is especially interesting. And we can’t help but think that this was a very subtle but intelligent shot at Steve Jobs’ never-changing outfit.

Chapter 3: The Spanish Connection
There is a recurring Spanish theme in this commercial that we have separated into details, but we are unable to piece back together with a consistent meaning behind it. We believe it is one of the most significant parts of the commercial, but we can’t quite follow Microsoft’s message. Let us explain.

First there's the churro, a Spanish pastry confection, chosen to represent the sweet goodiness of "The Future," as Microsoft puts it at the end of the ad. Next, there's The Conquistador shoe. Conquistador is a Spanish word for "conqueror," with obvious significance.

Third, and introduced in this chapter, there's a Spanish family of five outside of the store standing behind a transparent glass wall speaking to each other in Spanish with English captions for the commercial viewers. They also repeat a phrase Seinfeld says, "they run tight" referring to the way The Conquistador shoe fits. In addition, three of the family members are holding churros, including the father who was able to answer the wife's question, "Is that The Conquistador?" when she was not holding a churro.
The churro’s connection to “knowledge”, as the father had the answer to the wife, and Seinfeld had the solution for Gates' shoe problem, has to be significant as well, especially when coupled to the idea that Gates didn't want a churro, as if he already had all of the knowledge necessary. This is further reinforced as Gates and Seinfeld exit the store and Seinfeld asks Gates if he's ever mind melded his "magnum jupiter brain" with the "Saturn ring brains" of the other people at Microsoft.

And finally, when Gates is checking out with his shoe purchase, the cashier asks him, "Do you have a Shoe Circus Clown Club card?" and Gates says, "Platinum" and holds up the card. The colors on the card are the colors of the Spanish flag, yellow and red. We truly believe this Spanish theme is highly significant but we simply capitulate in front of this one.

Seriously, we have been thinking about this one quite a bit. One way to see this is that there is a Hispanic (=minority) family that wants to participate, but can’t since it is locked out of the store and perhaps would want these expensive “Conquistador” shoes from a (discount store) as well, but can’t afford them. So is there a prejudice that Hispanic families cannot afford Apple products? The question here is: Is Windows the more open software and is Apple discriminating? If that is the case, then Microsoft may be going a bit too far here.

In an obvious way, the "Clown Club card," which bears the arrest photo of Gates when he was detained as a youth, refers to the Mac club that is so important you want to talk about it. "Platinum!" And yes, we believe the reason for using Gates’ mug shot is not just meant as a funny item, it refers to a club that detains you. Get it?

Closing: The long walk home
The final scene has Gates and Seinfeld exiting the mall, Gates on the left holding his shoe purchase in his left hand, Seinfeld on the right, each holding a churro and talking to each other. Seinfeld asks, "What do you get with that card?" Gates replies, "Big Top Points." Obviously this is the not-so-subtle reference to the "nothingness" you get from the Mac club. And now comes the big finale.

Gates and Seinfeld continue to walk with Seinfeld asking Gates about melding his magnum jupiter brain into the saturn ring brains of other Microsoft people. Gates says he has done this. And Seinfeld then asks the $64,000 question: "Are they ever going to come out with something that will make our computers moist and chewy like cake so we can just eat 'em while we're working? If it's 'yes,' give me a signal. Adjust your shorts." And then Gates does something we never thought we'd see on camera ... he adjusts his underpants with a little wiggle.

This may be funny, but has a deeper meaning as well. Underpants are closer to you than your shoes. Shorts or underpants are with us all the time and they are so comfortable we can adjust them by wiggling – so they must be easy to use. That is, in contrast to a shoe you wear under a shower, of course.

The closing left us confused: The Future … Delicious. Hmmh. The future? So we are not talking about Vista here. A hint to Windows 7 perhaps?

TG Daily
HeilSvenska is offline   Reply With Quote

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump