Target: Mac-vulnerable PC Users
Reviewer: David Vinjamuri
Microsoft’s new Crispin Porter & Bogusky advertising continues with a new campaign intended to show the diversity of PC users.Â “I’m a PC and I’ve been made into a stereotype” is the opening line of the spot, delivered by a John Hodgman lookalike (Hodgman is the actor who plays the PC in the “I’m a Mac, I’m a PC” spots by Apple).Â The spot then progresses to showing a variety of people, from celebrities like Eva Longoria and Deepak Chopra to astronauts, scuba divers and ordinary people.
This is a very interesting attempt to take a common political campaign tactic and bring it to the consumer arena.Â The tactic is the “Checkers” ad (from Nixon who once complained that the press was so vicious that they were attacking the gift of a cocker spaniel to his daughters) which complains that the opponent is running a dirty campaign and smearing the candidate.Â This type of ad is also a negative ad, of course, as it attempts to impugn the character of the opponent.Â Microsoft here is trying to turn the tables on Apple’s successful anti-PC campaign by showing that every type of person uses PCs and that the Apple ads are unfair.
This advertising is far more focused than the brief but expensive campaign that preceded it featuring Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld.Â These spots also feel crisper with better pacing.
What you almost never see in political campaigns is a candidate who has the support of 90% of voters attacking a challenger with 10% support.Â That’s exactly what’s happening here and it reflects the extent to which Apple’s unyielding campaign against Microsoft has rattled Redmond and caused them to respond.Â This campaign is well-executed, but fundamentally misguided.Â It adds credibility to Apple’s message by acknowledging it and will likely get some people wondering if there’s something to those Macs after all.
The campaign is also misguided because it tries to solve a strategic problem with advertising.Â Windows Vista gave PC users something they were not asking for – a more elegant operating system that was less reliable than Windows XP.Â This in itself was a reaction to Apple.Â Microsoft should have ignored Apple and focused on a more elementary need of PC users – a faster, simpler and more flexible operating system which would be more reliable and adaptable than Windows XP.Â Had Microsoft turned in this direction, Apple would have been irrelevant as a competitor.Â They would have ceded the high end to Apple while digging a firmer foothold in the everyday world where 90% of computer usage happens.
As it is, Microsoft has given Apple a major strategic opportunity with the Vista debacle.Â And now Microsoft is wasting nearly $800 million dollars trying to fix the strategic problem with advertising.Â Add that to the $500 million already spent to advertise the Vista launch and you have enough money to accelerate the next generation operating system launch by several years.Â Microsoft should stop letting Apple and Steve Jobs push them off of their game and create a “Windows lite.”Â Then they can brag.
One last problem with the ads – and this is the only one that Crispin Porter is really responsible for – is that they lack permission to believe.Â Watch the Apple campaign and you’ll see that each ad gives specific reasons that Apple is better than PC.Â There are no specifics in this Microsoft campaign.
Branding Bottom Line:
There’s a reason that P&G greats like Dawn and Tide never mention competitors.Â See you at the debates, PC bitches.