Am I one of the few people on the planet who actually liked the Bill Gates/Jerry Seinfeld advertisements from Microsoft? Judging by the multitude of schadenfreude-laden obituaries for the campaign, I'd say the answer is yes.
Were they really that bad? I didn't think so. I saw the company trying to highlight its brand in a new light, using humor and its famous founding personality. I've never met Bill Gates before, but he does have a funny, self-depreciating side, which I first observed earlier this year in his retirement video (see below). The Seinfeld ads successfully brought out this side of Gates, and also attempted to associate those good feelings with the Microsoft brand. They were funny (see example below), and they stayed away from hyped-up product claims. Seems like a pretty smart package to me.
For reasons that would take too long to explore here, Microsoft is a company that critics love to hate. I think that any official effort to make Microsoft look good is bound to be treated with suspicion and outright hostility. This attitude is understandable for anyone that has been burned by the company before, but I also feel that people have to make an effort to judge individual efforts on their own merits, rather than automatically sullying them because of past experiences.
Ian Lamont blogs for The Industry Standard
See also: Copycat Microsoft mimics 'I'm a Mac'