The new Microsoft campaign, fronted by funny man Jerry Seinfeld and rich man Bill Gates, has arrived.
Here’s one of the longer videos, so far:
On the surface, we see Seinfeld and Gates, two of the most known characters in our culture, enjoy some time together with an average family. The marketing team at Microsoft wants us to laugh at that the company has been mildly out of touch with the technological needs of Americans—and that nothing less than the ex-CEO visiting your home will help rectify its customers’ distrust for the company. Companies like Apple are nipping at the coattails of Microsoft, and the Mad Men of Microsoft want to make sure to tell people: “Hey, we get it. We’re not the big and powerful monopoly we once were. We’re nimble and kind of quirky, just like Apple. We even know that we’re a bit out of it. See?”
The mom asks for financial advice. The pre-teen girl pulls a prank on them. The pizza guy is shunned by men who, together, have billions.
But what the marketing campaign is really telling us is much more powerful: The growing inequality between the very rich and the very average has grown beyond anyone’s expectations. And there’s no way to easily rectify it, except through hope and mockery. David Frum, conservative author, wrote a lengthy piece about this yesterday. In it, he writes:
As long as all Americans were becoming better off, few cared that some Americans were becoming better off than others. But since 2000, something has changed. Incomes at the middle have ceased to rise. The mood of the country has soured. Conservatives who disregard the mood of unease may forfeit their power to defend the more open and productive American economy they did so much to build.
At the end of the video, Seinfeld and Gates, walking off into the sunset, their bags in tow, do a little dance—and we laugh at our expense.