Microsoft is on the campaign trail, hustling for a better public opinion.
Presidential campaigning is on hiatus until later this year, but that isn’t stopping some people who’ve got plenty of money in their coffers from getting up close and personal with TV-watching Americans. “Twenty-five years ago, my friends and I started with nothing but an idea — that we could harness the power of the PC to improve people’s lives,” says Bill Gates in his high-pitched nasal voice, as acoustic guitar plays gently in the background. For 30 seconds, the richest man in the world makes an unspecified appeal to the American people, an unspecified appeal whose message is readily apparent to most anyone who has seen the new TV commercial.
When Gates, dressed in a conservative dark sweater, says “Since then, [the PC has] become a tool that has transformed our economy and had a profound effect on how we live and how our children learn,” he may as well be saying, “Look what I’ve done to transform our economy. A vote for Microsoft is a vote for a strong economy.” Gates doesn’t go so far as to say to write to our congressperson and tell them to call off the Justice Department hounds, but it wouldn’t feel out of place here.
Designed by ad agency McCann-Erickson, the commercial is part of Microsoft’s ongoing corporate image campaign, according to Microsoft spokesman Dan Leach. Gates has been in TV ads at least once before, touting a soft drink for another company, but this marks the first time Gates has appeared on behalf of Microsoft. “With all the issues in the news, we just thought it was a good time for the American public to hear directly from Bill Gates,” said Leach. “He’s the perfect person to talk about innovation and technology at Microsoft.”
The feel-good spot, which began airing the same week that Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson ruled that Microsoft violated antitrust law, ends with Gates saying, “Our goal at Microsoft is to create the next generation of software, to keep innovating and improving what we can do for you. The best is yet to come.” But it’s hard not to take away a different campaign message: that Microsoft has the power and funds to shape public, as well as political, opinion.
Lydia Lee is a San Francisco writer More Lydia Lee.
More Related Stories
- New Beyoncé single leaked
- The sweet, sure to be short-lived "The Goodwin Games"
- Damon Lindelof admits barely-clothed scene in "Star Trek" was "gratuitous"
- Justin Timberlake: I'm a mediocre folk singer!
- Ray Manzarek, founding member of The Doors, dies at 74
- Beware of book blurbs
- Did a Salon excerpt ruin Penn Jillette's chance to win "Celebrity Apprentice"?
- Zach Galifianakis to take formerly homeless woman to "Hangover 3" premiere
- Seth MacFarlane will not host Oscars again
- "SNL's" uncomfortable Garner/Affleck moment
- "Celebrity Apprentice" finale ratings hit a new low
- Worst National Anthem fails
- The truth in Kanye's anti-prison rap
- Stephen Colbert to UVA: "You must always make the path for yourself"
- "Game of Thrones," season 3, episode 8: A salon
- Bieber booed, Miguel falls on fan at Billboard Awards
- "Mad Men" recap: Love, acid and whores. Lots of whores
- Taylor Swift leads Billboard winners
- “Game of Thrones” recap: “We must do our duty”
- "The Unwinding": What's gone wrong with America
- Michael J. Fox wins: The best and worst of the new fall shows
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11