This is a continuation of a previous post, here. Again, be forewarned: this is not about technology.
The second installment of the Microsoft Crispen Porter campaign is out.
This installment seems to be creating even more discord than its first. In fact, it seems designed to provoke discord.
It’s at least as difficult to parse, and even more bizarre, than “Shoe Circus,” and, at 4 minutes 30 seconds, defines an unexplored new format for video advertising as compressed situation comedy.
First, the spot reinforces the casting of Bill and Jerry as a comedy team duo, two strangers in a strange land. This strange land is inhabited by “real people,” and Jerry reveals that they’re on a quest: “we need to connect with ‘real people’ he insists. It quickly becomes clear that these “real people” and our anti-heroes are fundamentally ill-equipped to deal with each other. This incompatibility is revealed through a series of vignettes that paint both the duo and their hosts as tragic-comically devoid of empathy. Again, the spot’s feel for human nature is reminiscent of Larry David’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” while the landscape seems conjured out of David Lynch’s vision of small town America.
Again, the spot is pure brand (no mention of company or product), and again it seems almost intentionally designed to illicit a “WTF” response from its audience.
What struck me as most unexpected is the self-deprecating positioning of the two anti-heroes. There are some indications that they are a metaphor for today’s personal computing experience, but this formula hardly seems to burnish Windows or Microsoft. The final scene echoes the conclusion of the previous spot, but takes its futurist theme in an ironic direction. Walking away from their adventure, Jerry gratuitously remarks, “Bill, you’ve connected over a billion people,” to which Bill echoes his earlier answer, “I have.” Then Jerry recapitulates his speculations on some ridiculous future innovations and pushes Bill’s butt wag acknowledgement embarrassingly beyond the audience comfort zone as Jerry directs him to dance like a robot and then urges him to catch up, which he submissively does. Not exactly a positive characterization of innovation.
As best I can tell, the main aim of this seems to be to hook the audience in the mystery of where this is going and create buzz, which I suspect it’s already done. The fact that the buzz ranges from perplexed to hostile can’t be unintentional, which leads to a new theory of what’s going on.
First, we must give up on the idea that Bill and Jerry are meant to represent Microsoft, Windows, or Apple…they’re something else. This story, still in its early chapters, has to be about transforming perceptions, as Microsoft intends to do with Vista and perhaps its leadership role in general. So the spot deliberately starts out establishing and reinforcing the perception that our team has a problem: despite their vast resources and accomplishments, they’re disconnected from the needs of real people. Look for the introduction of Windows as the agency of this connection. As our protagonists are humorously cut down to size, Microsoft must enter the picture as the tool of their rehabilitation.
At least, that’s my best guess as to what’s going on here. Any other thoughts?