Why the Microsoft ad reminds me of the RNC…


The new Microsoft ad featuring software “maverick” Bill Gates and yuk-yuk man Jerry Seinfeld makes me think of the Republican National Convention.

Both are short on specifics and long on distracting non-content, and for the very same reason.

Microsoft has a broken product.  It sucks, and has sucked for many years.  Their latest relaunch attempt has been a calamity.  But they’re trying to tell everyone how great they are, how strong their ideas are, and how the future is just going to get better (“Delicious”).

—Or was I just describing the Republican Party?

It’s hard to tell them apart.  Both are losers who’d rather not discuss their record.  Microsoft can’t talk about quality and features and how more and more people are switching to them the way Apple can.  (Okay, sometimes the Apple ads stretch the truth.  All that talk about trial software—Apple does it too, though not as much.  And while Mac owners gloat about the lack of computer viruses and how they don’t need protection software, just wait till their operating system becomes more popular.)

So while each Apple “PC vs. Mac” ad discusses some weakness of Microsoft’s empire, the MS ads so far look like they’re going to be “image.”  They’re trying to “reposition” the brand in the minds of users.  They’re not about talking points, they’re about the impression people are supposed to leave with after viewing one of these hilarious commercials.  Yuk-yuk.

The RNC was the same way, and apparently it’s worked, judging by the post-convention polls.  It seems a lot of people, women in particular, were just thrilled to see a pair of tits up there, irregardless of who they’re attached to.  For years—since the 60s—women have been telling men they’re smarter than that, and I believed them.  I was wrong.

I didn’t hear Sarah, John and the gang elaborate on specifics or give talking points about where they’re going to take America.  Rather, I heard lots of repositioning and saw lots of image—because nobody does image and stagecraft like the Republicans.  (Hal Riney: “It’s morning in America…”)  In a way I did see talking points: I watched Sarah Palin make fun of Barack Obama’s platform.  The problem is, it wasn’t Obama’s platform, but rather one the Republicans had made up.  She said many things, such as the “fact” that Obama wants to coddle terrorists with legal technicalities and “do nothing” about our energy situation—both of which are obviously not true to anyone who’s even picked up a newspaper in the past six months.  But I wouldn’t expect that from a group of people who tend to get their information from Faux News.  Ms. Palin spent her speech not talking about who she is and what she’s done—because it’s best to not go there—avoiding specifics.  Johnny Mac likewise steered clear of anything tangeable about his party.  In fact, he acted as though the other party had been in charge for the last eight years and his group was the underdog.  And people are buying it.  I know, he’s the maverick in the Republican party…except that when he could have used his moment in the spotlight to highlight how his ideas for the next four years are different from Bush/Cheney/Rove, he didn’t.  (Instead he returned again to the bamboo cage, which, let’s face it, is the best thing that ever happened to him.)

At least the Microsoft ad doesn’t directly skewer Apple.  That would be stupid, being that Apple users are intelligent and can’t be duped so easily.  (Most of them can read, after all.)  I think the RNC will have better luck with this lame “no-content” approach than Microsoft will, for that reason.

What’s truly terrifying is that Paris Hilton’s mock commercial actually contained more intelligent ideas about an energy policy than anything the Repugs have put forward.  Honestly, would you feel better voting for Sarah or Paris?  Given the position McCain has put us in, the question is really not all that absurd.

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