Q&A: Microsoft's David Webster

NEW YORK After years of being defined by Apple, Microsoft is fighting back and somewhat surprisingly, landing some punches. The company’s latest round of ads featuring real consumers named Lauren and Giampalo trying to buy laptops for less than $1,000 and $1,500, respectively, seems to have struck a chord. (A new ad featuring a mother and son, also from Crispin Porter + Bogusky, is set to break at the end of this week.) At the very least, the Lauren ad has raised the ire of the Apple faithful, who gleefully pointed out that the woman in the ad, Lauren De Long, was in fact a professional actress. Nevertheless, David Webster, general manager of brand marketing at Microsoft, said his company’s whole campaign, which started in September with those baffling Jerry Seinfeld-Bill Gates ads, has resulted in a 10 percent lift in preference for the brand over Apple. Webster, who formerly worked for New York agency Siegel + Gale, spoke with Brandweek editor Todd Wasserman. Below are some excerpts.