Microsoft “New Family”

Watching Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld clown around in Microsoft’s new ads from Crispin Porter + Bogusky, you can’t help but think about Apple. Of course, that’s because the competition has been having more conversations about the brand, albeit negative ones, than the tech giant has of late. Now that Gates has grabbed the bullhorn, it’s as if the characters that we’ve come to know so well in Apple’s ad campaign, Mac and PC, played by Justin Long and John Hodgman, have been freed of the constrictive white stage setting they’ve inhabited for the last two years and, yes, entered the bizarro world that is Microsoft’s Gates and Seinfeld buddy adventure. Gates must have had enough of the digs from Apple, which based its PC character on the Microsoft chairman, and decided if anyone was going to have a laugh at his expense, it should be his own comedic antics that inspire it. But he’s just not funny. It’s great to see Seinfeld back on TV, throwing out nonsensical inquiries like whether Gates will make a chewy computer out of cake or, in the most recent spot, which casts the odd couple as house guests to a suburban family, when the comedian asks him, “What’s next? Frog with an e-mail, goldfish with a Web site, an amoeba with a blog?” Gates is stiff and awkward in his buffoonery, but that actually works to make him more endearing to audiences. That’s his charm.–Eleftheria Parpis