Microsoft’s Viral Video Adventure: Seinfeld/Gates vs. I’m a PC

Visible Measures / October 1, 2008

Microsoft recently went on a marketing offensive, launching a $300 million campaign that was unexpectedly divided into two distinct sections. The first, ostensibly designed as a teaser, featured legendary comedian Jerry Seinfeld alongside Microsoft’s founder Bill Gates, first buying discount shoes and then trying to live alongside a typical American family. The second section, and what has proven to be the main part of the campaign, is a feel-good response to Apple’s Get a Mac campaign. This series of ads attempts to fight the PC stereotype by having people of all walks of life, including a John Hodgman look-alike, emphatically declaring  “I’m a PC.” 

Check them out below. Which do you think drove the most viral video views?  

Seinfeld and Gates invade the home of an American family: 

There’s a bit of controversy behind the shift from Seinfeld to “I’m a PC.”  Some reports said that Seinfeld was dropped from the campaign. Others said that Microsoft’s short-lived partnership with Seinfeld went exactly as planned, hence the ‘teaser’ title. While we may never know the true story, we can certainly measure how audiences are reacting to the switch. 


I’m a PC

Despite an equal number of video placements (about 75 each), the Seinfeld/Gates ads are squashing the “I’m a PC” ads so far by a non-trivial margin of 4.3 million viral video views. 

Yes, the Seinfeld/Gates clips have been available for two weeks longer than the “I’m a PC” ads, but normalizing their performance only serves to underscore the broader trend. Looking at each campaign’s first week-and-a-half in market, the Seinfeld/Gates ads drove more than 3.2 million viral video views, whereas “I’m a PC” saw barely half of that. After two weeks, Seinfeld/Gates was still collecting more than 700,000 views per day, while the “I’m a PC” clips had tapered off to less than 50,000 views per day. 

What do you think? Did Microsoft make a good decision here? Was this all part of their master plan? Or would you recommend that Microsoft get Seinfeld back onboard pronto?

It’s interesting to theorize why one set of ads would drive disproportionate interest in comparison to another set of ads. Our cursory analysis of comment sentiment shed some interesting insights here, but those will have to wait for another day. And, as always, let us know of any match-ups you’d like us to investigate.


The data used in this post was collected from our Viral Reach Database, a constantly growing video repository of analytic data on 100+ million Internet videos from 150+ video-sharing destinations.


Tags: online marketing, video advertising, video analytics, viral advertising, viral video,