Microsoft Upgrades Itself (Sort Of)

Sep 18th, 2008 // 8 Comments

In a surprising move, Jerry Seinfeld has been ousted as Microsoft pitchman in favor of a much, much more recognizable face… Pharell Williams of the Neptunes! OK, maybe this is something of a lateral move for Microsoft.

Seinfeld got the axe after a series of fairly bizarre ads that I think I liked. Maybe that’s part of the problem there. The one where Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld went shoe-shopping really had very little to do with Microsoft, and seemed to be a rather blatant attempt to counter the hip Justin Long/John Hodgman ads that Apple’s been cranking out of late. But I gotta admit, moving to Pharell? I like him and all, but I wasn’t 100% sure I even knew what the guy looked like until I Googled him and said, “Oh yeah, sure I do.” And he’s known as much, if not more, for his behind-the-scenes work as for his MCing, no?

In an a skewed way, it’s kind of cool to see an artist like Pharrell pitching a behemoth like Microsoft. But in another, less skewed way, it doesn’t make a lot of sense given Seinfeld’s actual stardom. Seeing as how Seinfeld got $10 million for the ads, this is probably a wise financial decision. Pharrell costs what, a few grand? (Keep in mind, I’m guessing based off my standard rate for public appearances, which is a sixer of Bud Ice.)

Pharrell is actually part of Microsoft’s “Phase Two” phalanx. Translation: “Phase One featuring Jerry Seinfeld” only became “Phase One” when those ads tanked. “Phase Two” places Pharrell in a marketing Cerberus that includes Eva Longoria and Deepak Chopra, last seen in The Love Guru. We all know how that one turned out.

I need to point out here that the guy who played weak-spined newspaper editor Thomas Klebanow in Season 5 of The Wire is in this ad. Seeing that guy makes me mad. You should have listened to Gus and Alma, you creep!

Microsoft Dumps Seinfeld For Rapper Pharrell [AllHipHop]

  1. DocStrange

    Speaking of computers, for some weird reason or another, I can’t view Idolator in Mozilla Firefox. And it’s not that i’ve turned off cookies or some other magically random thing that Windows and/or Firefox can randomly decide is the reason that I can see the page, as AV Club, Fark, Stereogum and all of my other familiar internet haunts are able to work. Probably just another random problem with Windows. Sigh.

  2. silkyjumbo

    @Lucas Jensen: wait, what? danger mouse is more visible than pharrell? pharrell shows up in the videos of almost every (hit)song he produces. i don’t think people could have picked danger mouse out of a lineup before gnarls barkley. (and maybe not even after.)

    @Maura Johnston: i think jerry seinfeld came with too much baggage. the apple ads worked because people saw justin long and thought, “oh yeah, that guy.” you can do more in ads when you just have “that guy”. but when you use seinfeld, it has to be JUST like the tv show.

  3. Lucas Jensen

    @silkyjumbo: I was more musing than making a definitive statement there. Apparently, I am wrong!

  4. Anonymous

    Microsoft payed tons of cash to the ‘advertising guru’ who created those new(ish) Burger King ads to come up with these whack Seinfeld spots.


  5. noz

    “But I gotta admit, moving to Pharell? I like him and all, but I wasn’t 100% sure I even knew what the guy looked like until I Googled him and said, “Oh yeah, sure I do.”"

    SMH. Pharrell is arguably the most visible producer of the past decade. Are you a fan of popular music?

  6. Lucas Jensen

    @noz: Dude, yeah, I thought I knew him, but I still had to check. Like I said, I wasn’t 100% sure. And, yes, I am a fan of popular music. I have a hard time with faces, okay?

    And the most visible producer of the last decade? As opposed to say Timbaland or Danger Mouse (well, of the last 3 years or so)?

    Maybe. Certainly he’s out there. But I hardly think that kids everywhere are gonna head to Microsoft products because Pharrell Williams is endorsing them. And his career since Clipse (which, remember, didn’t sell very well) has been a little spotty, no? Did that Madonna song do alright? I can’t remember. Truth is, if Pharrell was hot right now he probably wouldn’t be doing this ad.

  7. Maura Johnston

    @noz: at this point i think pharrell is more visible in ads now than anything else.

    brb putting on converse

  8. Maura Johnston

    @noz: also, i think lucas’ confusion speaks to why this pitchman selection may not be such a great idea. sure, pharrell is pretty visible to people who follow popular music, but the number of people who can claim that mantle has been dropping like a stone, particularly over the last three years. and especially now, with attention spans shorter than ever and people less likely to actually *remember* pharrell thanks to all the other crap clogging up their brains, picking celebrities to endorse stuff like this is a science that frequently gets botched thanks to people confusing “industry famous” with “familiar to people ages 11-111.”

    the seinfeld pick made sense, even to someone like me who thinks celebrity endorsements of any product at this point are pretty dumb and useless, because seinfeld represented the last gasp of good old monoculture.

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