Was ‘SeinfeldGates’ a viral success or failure?

Marketing virally is a slippery slope, and invariably it’s those that have no inclination towards creating something viral that experience the success that the “professionals” so strive for.  When Microsoft announced they were spending $300,000,000 to create a campaign with a centrepoint series of ads with Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld it was obvious there was hope the bloggers would blog, the Twitters would tweet, and perhaps, YouTube would help Microsoft become the next ‘Dramatic Chipmunk‘.  But, somewhere along the way to untold riches, something happened.

The Gates/Seinfeld ads were almost universally panned by experts and amateurs alike.  Did you miss them?  There were only two, and they didn’t last long: The first ad was titled Shoe Circus, the second New Family.  Faced with this seemingly universal dislike Microsoft quickly yanked the ads – claiming they were only teasers all along – and launched into a new set of ads titled “I’m a PC”, obviously a direct salvo towards the famous Mac ads.  However, this AdAge article points out a very interesting statistic regarding the campaign’s viral views:

Visible Measures points out that while the Seinfeld/Gates clips came out two weeks earlier than the “I’m a PC” ads, Seinfeld/Gates drew twice as many viewers their first week in market than the PC ads did. After two weeks in market, Visible Measures says, “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 are your thoughts on the link between online buzz and viral success?  Is it enough for your brand to be talked about, regardless of the good/bad nature of that conversation?  Is ‘Gates/Seinfeld’ a success, against everything we’ve read and been led to believe?  Tell us your thoughts in comments.