Thursday, September 11, 2008

Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld aren't gay

Boy oh boy. People sure are reading a lot into Microsoft's new ad. I've heard everything from the phallic nature of the churro and the implication of two men shoe shopping with leather references to outcast minorities.

It's not a typical commercial. It's 90 seconds and doesn't mention the product until the last four seconds. The rest of it is filled with...nothing. And that's the point. Kind of.

What was Seinfeld all about? It was a show about nothing. Bill Gates is shopping at the "Quality shoes at discount prices store" not as some allegory to say that a Windows machine is less expensive than the Mac, but because it's funny that the richest man in the world is shopping for shoes at a discount store in the mall.

It's also funny that Jerry, also very wealthy, knows exactly which kind of shoes are available and their different qualities.

When Jerry is sizing Bill's feet and asks if what he's feeling is Bill's toe, Bill responds. "No. It's pleather." It's a joke. Get it? It actually sounds like something my sister in-law would say. Bonus: Bill isn't even buying real leather shoes.

I don't think the Hispanic folks who are looking in the store window are a symbol of the outcast people in third world countries who don't even recognize these famous, rich people shopping inside. I think it was a random clip to stick in to break up the shots in the shoe store.

I don't think Bill holding up his platinum membership card to the shoe store to earn "big top points" is symbolic of how Microsoft rewards its customers. I think it was a chance to work a joke in, as well as a more subtle bonus joke: the picture on the card is Gates' mug shot when he was arrested for speeding in New Mexico.

I understand, to a certain extent, why people are digging so deep to find meaning in the commercial because it doesn't talk about Windows at all. But the homo-erotic and/or Microsoft/discount shoe store symbolism people are trying to establish is simply ridiculous.

By itself, the ad doesn't work, no matter how deep you look at it. The additional spots in the campaign will shed some light on the direction they're taking and will tie it all together. In the meantime, take it for what it is: a quirky, somewhat entertaining spot.