From the back of the May 4, 1998 edition of US News and World Report, this ad for Microsoft:
If this is an attempt to improve on “You’re smarter than you think”, I think it fails. Of course you’re smarter when you think! That’s what intelligence or “smarts” usually mean.
As an aside, the odd mixing of uppercase, lowercase, italics and roman in the lettering is really stupid looking and probably would make this look even unprofessional, except… it’s Microsoft, they get away with stuff. Not that MSFT is alone in this; plenty of really big companies put out bizzare and not really effective ads and get away with it. The only text that isn’t displayed this way is the copyright statement at the bottom. Even the http://www.microsoft.com shown in the lower right was “stylized” that way.
I have to admire the icons though. That’s IE in the lower left (In 1998 the current version of Internet Explorer was version 4/4.01), Paint underneath the Start menu. I don’t recognize the flying documents and below them, a web page (*.HTM document).
It is, I think, a true indication of the state of technology at the time that the major operating system vendor would showcase itself and its product using severely blown up, pixelated icons with no transparency, such as the IE icon again.
Finally, something I suggested above: What is this ad meant to do? It doesn’t seem to be doing anything but saying “We have mony to blow on a meaningless ad on the back of a major national middlemarket publication”. That’s why I’m tagging this InExOb.