Update: Seinfeld ads end as Microsoft turns to reclaim 'I'm a PC' slur from Apple

Microsoft takes new direction

The long, oft-baffling "teaser" ads" by Microsoft Corp. featuring Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Gates that kicked off two weeks ago are ending, the company said late Wednesday, as Part 2 of its $300 million Windows marketing rehab campaign begins.

Carrying the theme "Windows. Life without walls," the new ads will show Microsoft "audaciously embracing" the phrase "I'm a PC" -- which has been so successfully tarnished by Apple Inc.'s ads during the past two years -- in order to rehabilitate it, reported The New York Times.

One of the new commercials will even show a real Microsoft engineer who is a ringer for John Hodgman, the actor who plays the abused PC character in the Apple ads, introducing himself: "Hello, I'm a PC, and I've been made into a stereotype," according to the Times.

Apple has been "using a lot of their money to de-position our brand and tell people what we stand for," a Microsoft brand marketing manager told the Times. Microsoft wants "to take back that narrative," he continued, and "have a conversation about the real PC."

Microsoft says that contrary to much speculation, there were "definitely no other" ads starring Seinfeld and Gates that were filmed and being scuttled due to negative response.

"The plan all along was to do two teaser ads," Microsoft spokesman Frank X. Shaw said in a phone interview today.

Asked about the seemingly abrupt transition from the Seinfeld-Gates ads to the 'I'm a PC' ones that begin airing tonight, Shaw said there was a "subtle transition. At the end of the second commercial, you see Bill telling Jerry about how he's connected billions of people through Windows. Then it ends with the words "Perpetually connecting" and "PC" ... so it is a subtle connection between the teaser campaign and the main one."

More than 60 Microsoft employees will appear in the ads, along with their e-mail addresses. Bill Gates, who was in the controversial first two ads, will show up in the subsequent ones, along with celebrities such as actress Eva Longoria, author Deepak Chopra and hip-hop singer Pharrell Williams.

The counterattack strategy is typical for the ad agency, Crispin Porter & Bogusky, behind the campaign. One ad for its successful campaign for Burger King portrays a high-calorie meal as a rebellious personal choice for its target audience of young men, reported the Times.

That's far different from the two semi-surreal, lengthy ads -- one 1.5 minutes long, the other 4.5 minutes long -- that appeared on American television on consecutive Thursdays earlier this month.

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