Microsoft Kicks Apple’s Wussy PC’s Butt

by Chris Howard Sep 24, 2008

A few weeks back I suggested Microsoft was scared by Apple's successes, and even that Apple was kicking its butt a bit. That's been somewhat vindicated by Microsoft's latest advertising campaign, which clearly proves Microsft is very concerned about the Mac threat. However, the butt kicking boot is now firmly on Microsoft's foot. Although, Microsoft don't seem to know how to use it properly.

Last week Microsoft released a new series of ads that have a powerful message. These ads put the brakes on Apple's "I'm a Mac/I'm a PC" ads big time. In the game of one-upsmanship, has taken a decisive lead.

It's kinda like some lame jock picking on a nerd and the nerd has finally had enough so invites his friends over to meet the jock. And his friends just happen to be the likes of Michael Jordan, Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps, and Muhammad Ali.

It's like the old saying goes: you pick on me, you pick on my friends.

I haven't met an Apple person yet who gets these ads. They are totally lost on Apple users because they think the ads are meant to sell Windows and/or PCs, or dispel concerns about viruses and Vista.

Far from it. They are to counter to the "Get a Mac" ads sublime message. Those ads' whole aim was to make PC users feel inferior. Inferior computer, inferior software, inferior security, even inferior coolness. Of course the solution to that inferiority was to "Get a Mac".

Microsoft's "I'm a PC" ads are aimed squarely at restoring PC users battered egos. It's got nothing to do with selling PCs, these ads are about NOT selling Macs. That is, stopping people switching.

And at that, they should be very successful.

It's not that the ads make you want to rush out and buy a PC, rather they make you proud to be a PC owner. (That's why, understandably, Mac owners don't get it, because no matter what you say, we think "who could be proud to own a PC?".) And if you're a proud PC user, why would you switch?

These ads are saying that PCs are being used to change the world, whether small scale, or large scale. That's a powerful message that certainly gives PC users a reason to puff their chests out.

Mac users have been funny, clutching at straws. My favorite is where they are calling the campaign stupid because "If we don't have walls, then we don't need windows". Desperation. Others are suggesting these ads promote PCs but not Windows. Again, clutching at straws, as PCs are synonymous with Windows.

And I have to disagree with our own James, who has a problem with Microsoft implicitly admitting Windows is worse than Mac. I can't see how saying "I'm a PC, I do great things and I'm proud of that" is implicitly agreeing with the criticisms contained in the Apple's ads. And even if they were, I've never considered admitting fault a character flaw. Rather, this campaign shows that Microsoft is afraid of Apple's expanding market-share.

When next an objective person who might have been considering switching to a Mac sees the ads, they won't see the John Hodgman type PC, they'll see all his friends. Friends in space, friends on the street, friends making the world a better place. And then they will doubt the Mac's message. They will say the Mac guy must be wrong, because PCs are chaging the world.

Quite obviously Apple also has users doing exactly the same sorts of things with Macs. But Apple is too late. Microsoft has taken the highground. How does it look if Apple says, "Hey we've got scientists using Macs, and cool people." Nup, chance is gone. If Apple tries anything now, it just looks like bitching and whining.

Where does Apple go from here? It obviously can't counter with the same sort of ad. And it can't continue to sell the Mac "because it can make better home movies" or OS X is better than Vista.

To the average Windows user, comfortable in their own discomfort, the lack of viruses is the only thing the Mac has going for it. When I talk to average Windows users, that is the only thing that appeals to them about Macs. On Windows, everything is familiar and comfortable and they'll put up with it.

Apple needs a new angle. It's a shame it didn't think of the this idea first, because it is really a powerful message. Although, you could say it is just a variation on the Switchers campaign. Except Microsoft took it up a couple of notches.

The funny thing, though, is Microsoft being Microsoft, it doesn't seem to understand what it's got. The first ad is brilliant, the second clever, but by the third you feel like it's becoming too defensive, aiming the last one at Mac users, which is a bit of a waste of breath. And its finishes with the "You got a problem with that?" line, which does make you cringe, but not in fear.

All Microsoft really has to do is keep showing people changing the world with their PCs, like in the first ad, and that will help stem the tide of switchers.

And how can Apple top an ad that shows all sorts of people changing the world with their PCs? It can't.

So it might be a good time for Apple to go back to more generic advertising of the Mac for a while, and focus its clever campaigns on the halo products, that is, the iPhone and iPod.

What do you think Apple's next advertising campaign sould focus on?


  • The point of any ad is not really to convince the customer to buy your product, but to convince her to seriously think about your product; try it out, take it out for a spin, and hopefully you’ll like it and buy it and be wedded to it for good or for a very long time.

    Nobody bought a Mac because of I’m-a’Mac-I’m-a-PC.  But a lot of folks went out to an Apple Store and looked at one, maybe asked a friend about it, or researched the internet about it then decided they liked what they saw and went ahead and bought one.

    Ads just call attention to the product, the product still has to sell itself. 

    I seriously doubt that the new MS ads will make a serious dent in deterring potential switchers.  This new campaign is in the same vein as Think Different—it’s not about the features of the product it’s about how admirable and heroic the people who use the product are.  Think Different was interesting and entertaining, but did it sell Macs?  In the end Macs started to sell not because the ad campaign was so great but because the product was, or is.

    And besides, Microsoft’s problem isn’t really the switchers.  Their problem is the high school and college kids who are making their first serious, informed computer-buying decision and are going for Macs in droves.  They are technically ‘switchers’ because they were probably using PCs but that choice was made for them by their parents or before they really knew what they know now about computers. 

    This is the generational tidal wave that is staring Microsoft in the face and I’m not sure Ballmer sees it, realizes it, or feels any urgency to address it.

    tundraboy had this to say on Sep 24, 2008 Posts: 132
  • Apples next ad can simply state “I’m a Mac and a PC too”

    Lasher had this to say on Sep 24, 2008 Posts: 1
  • I typically don’t get into or care about the Mac-PC wars, but I think the ad makes an almost slam dunk against Mac’s campaign. To me it’s saying back to Apple that hey it’s not just about being cool and sleek, but it’s about what we do that’s important. Apple should heed this. I think ever since Apple has gotten on the iPod bandwagon, it’s kinda marginalized creative work that people do with Apple products. It puts out all these wonderful applications, but it doesn’t follow up and help people make connections around what they do with the apps. Great critique, Howard.

    Bakari had this to say on Sep 24, 2008 Posts: 37
  • After the first few “I’m a PC"s all I can hear is I’m pissy. and I think “Your pissy? You must be using Windows.”

    rvanward had this to say on Sep 24, 2008 Posts: 1
  • The “I’m a PC” ad series might have had more impact if they weren’t created on Macs.

    booga had this to say on Sep 24, 2008 Posts: 19
  • Multi-billion dollar corporation with billionaire CEO vs multi-billion dollar corporation with billionaire CEO.  They’re probably just amused that some of you people actually wrap your identity up in the brand of computer you use.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Sep 24, 2008 Posts: 2220
  • Beeblebrox: “Multi-billion dollar corporation with billionaire CEO vs multi-billion dollar corporation with billionaire CEO.  They’re probably just amused that some of you people actually wrap your identity up in the brand of computer you use”

    “some of you people”?
    What do you mean by that, Microsoft creep?
    And “actually wrap your identity”??? That’s a sick joke coming from the most active commenter here at this Microsoft shilling phony Apple site.

    zato3 had this to say on Sep 24, 2008 Posts: 26
  • “Microsoft Kicks Apple’s Wussy PC’s Butt”

    2 digit Microsoft creep.

    zato3 had this to say on Sep 24, 2008 Posts: 26
  • Page 1 of 1 pages
You need log in, or register, in order to comment