A baffling Microsoft advert featuring Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Gates discussing shoes before the software billionaire shakes his behind as he walks across a car park has disappeared from the air after critics described it as "awful" and a "train wreck".
The 90-second spot, one of three adverts for which Seinfeld was paid a reported $10 million, was designed to kick off an ambitious $300 million campaign to relaunch the software company and its troubled Windows Vista operating system. But two weeks after debuting, the three commercials were withdrawn in favour of other adverts in which Seinfeld, whose eponymous hit sitcom ended a decade ago, is replaced by such stars as the actress Eva Longoria and singer Pharrell Williams. The first advert featuring Gates and Seinfeld was met by a collective scratching of heads as viewers struggled to fathom what the two men's oblique and unfunny discussion had to do with computers. Washington-based Microsoft, however, vigorously denied the Gates/Seinfeld adverts were pulled because of their reception and maintained it had always been the plan to replace them after a fortnight with more specific spots focusing on Windows. "The notion that we're doing some quick thing to cancel (the Seinfeld ads) is actually preposterous," Mich Mathews, a senior vice president in Microsoft's central marketing group. He described the three Seinfeld spots as attention-grabbing ice breakers designed to heighten people's interest ahead of the "major message" of the subsequent adverts, entitled Life Without Walls, and said the plan had worked. The Windows-focused campaign is seen as a long-awaited response to the high-profile "I'm a Mac" campaign run by arch rival Apple.