Hey kids, remember the late 1990s? Bill Clinton was President. The economy was humming along. Gas prices were low. Seinfeld was the number one TV show. And Microsoft ruled the tech world. You might not have liked it, but it was true.
At the time, it seemed like there was nothing that Microsoft couldn’t do: they had so much power that they were able to start the Browser Wars and win them without getting bogged down in a quagmire. Hell, even Windows 98 was a decent operating system.
For Microsoft, good times. And they’d like to remind you of those times, with an upcoming ad campaign starring another 1990s icon: Jerry Seinfeld.
An ad campaign where the co-star is another 1990s icon: Bill Gates. What? Bill Clinton wasn’t also available? While I understand that things aren’t going quite as swimmingly for Microsoft in 2008 as they were in 1998, I don’t think this will help.
Look, regardless of what he is pitching, Jerry Seinfeld is a victim of the time and place he helped define. Seinfeld the TV show — which BTW, I still I think is terrifically funny — is probably on somewhere right now. And in fact, it will always be on, and when you see it, you’ll always think 1990s. It’s like The Beatles of TV Shows: nearly ubiquitous, and yet frozen in time as the purest distillation of its time. Jerry Seinfeld is as part of the 1990s as The Beatles are part of the 1960s.
And I don’t think that nostalgia sells technology.
Jerry Seinfeld reminds me of the 1990s, and while I feel lucky and proud to have been part of the whole dot-com boom, the reality is that it’s 2008, and technology has continued to march forward.
In purely technological terms, who wants to be reminded of a time before the iPhone or TiVo or network music players? Who wants to be reminded of a time before in-dash GPS or YouTube or Roomba or Facebook? All of these things have become fully intertwined with our lives now, and now that we have them, do you want to go back to 1998 and not have them?
I don’t think that anybody does, and I don’t see how using Jerry Seinfeld indicates that your company is looking towards the future instead of reminiscing about the past.
And it ain’t going to make Vista seem any better, either.