Hello, I’m a PC and I’ve been made into a stereotype

As you would expect, all the Apple Fanboys are hating on the new “I’m a PC” campaign from Microsoft.  In particular, bloggers are pouncing on the fact that the ad was likely created using a Mac.  In my opinion, this is just another example of Alan Wolk’s NASCAR Blindness where the left leaning, Mac loving writers of the online world completely miss the point because they have their blinders on.

The fact is, this new campaign is pretty clever for Middle America

Let me start by making some assumptions based on my experiences in the Mac vs PC debate.

  1. Apple’s most passionate Brand Advocates seem to be concentrated on the East and West Coast, especially in cities like New York and San Francisco.
  2. These Apple Fan Boys (and Girls) are more likely to be in a creative line of work (like advertising)
  3. They are reading media in places like the New York Times, where Apple has gotten so much praise for their “I’m a Mac” rich media buys.
  4. Apple celebrates their “trendiness” and the fact they are “cooler” than PC users.

So given these facts, I think the “I’m a PC” campaign is a brilliant move by Microsoft to shore up Middle America.  Put yourself in the shoes of a Microsoft Brand Manager.  You recognize the above assumptions but realize that the do not describe the majority of America.  Just as important, you realize that a lot of people might find Apple and their smarky spokesman Justin Long just a little too smug.  And finally you recognize that in this time of political division and economic uncertainty, people might appreciate advertising that does not play up stereotypes.

The new Microsoft ads work because they focus on what brings us together instead of what sets us apart. They work because they call out that most of us “are not what you call hip”… nor do we want to be.  They work because they show that PC users are not about stereotypes and looking down on others.  And they work because they are funny with things like “I turn #2 into energy” or “I’m a PC and I sell fish.”

My girlfriend Cindy summed it up best when she saw the ad during NFL football on Sunday.  She said, “now that’s an ad for someone that thinks its stupid to spend $3,000 on a Mac just because its cool.”  Enough said.

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12 Responses to Hello, I’m a PC and I’ve been made into a stereotype

  1. BIG Kahuna says:

    Last time I checked Microsoft didn’t even sell PC’s. Apple’s marketshare is a piss ant of PC’s. Apples is doing a great job at differentiating but ultimately they will never, ever really challenge. And why should they, that’s not their niche. Creative minds are their core audeince.

    All my designers and writers use Macs. I use a PC. My research person…a PC. The lines are drawn!

  2. Mariella says:

    Well I am a Mac.
    But I must agree with you that this is a good campaign. Somehow it’s too bad they had to re-use Apple’s idea as a base but it’s a good campaign nevertheless.

  3. Alli Gerkman says:

    Dave–couldn’t agree more. I actually felt kind of excited for Microsoft, which has always been a bit of an underdog when it comes to ad campaigns, when I saw this last night.

    I’m a PC user (though it was a close call when I got my last laptop) and may just stay one if my recent customer service experience with Apple is representative (described here last week: http://alli.posterous.com/a-sad-day-for-ipod-or-why-i-ma) of its service.

  4. Dave Knox says:

    BK – The lines are indeed drawn, Yes Mac’s are drawing away a small share of the computer market, but the business still runs on a PC. And what I love about the campaign is that Microsoft (a software company as you point out) is out there swinging in defense of Dell, HP, etc. That will pay dividends

    Mariella – Being a Mac isn’t a bad thing. 🙂 The problem is when Apple acts like just because you don’t use a Mac, then you must be a nerdy, behind the times laggard. I think Apple is actually giving good Mac people a bad name!

    Alli – I was excited for them as well. The campaign with Jerry and Bill was “interesting” so I’m glad to see them follow-up with such a strong campaign.

    Keep the comments coming and thanks for reading

  5. Justin Lam says:

    When I saw the ad, I thought it was one of those ads that was a well-done ad showing the diversity of their clientele, but not necessarily connecting it to the product or brand; there’s so much diversity in the ad (“I turn #2 into energy”) that I saw the Windows logo at the end and was kind of confused. The people in the ad struck me as Middle America people, but not necessarily Windows users. So this ad still comes off to me as an anti-Mac ad, and not necessarily a PC ad.

    Nonetheless, I think you raise very valid points – hard as it is for me to admit, since I made the move from PC to Mac two years ago (and that’s after growing up on Windows 3.1). The quality of execution is debatable, but the brand management behind it is unique and a step in the right direction for Microsoft.

  6. Kevin says:

    It’s been a couple years since I’ve paid attention to the Mac/PC ads. But, weren’t they simply fun and visual product comparisons? The home movie ad from 2006 comes to mind. And isn’t this in line with a lot of traditional advertising for the underdog? Avis, We Try Harder, The Pepsi Challenge.

    It appears to me, the Mac campaign has grown old. Like a sitcom that has Jumped the Shark, it becomes a parody of itself. That has left it potentially vulnerable.

    Because from that caricature, Microsoft has launched its campaign. You’re now one or the other – Mac/PC, Red state/Blue state. MS has taken a competitor that’s 10% of the market and made them an equal partner.

    So, the question for me is: Is this a good identity campaign for Microsoft, or are they helping make the case for Apple?

  7. Alan Wolk says:

    Thanks for the reference Dave.

    I think a lot of what the ad bloggers were responding to was the fact that we’ve seen this campaign many times before. It’s the old “go around the world and find interesting people who use our product” formula– Cisco did something very similar a couple of years back.

    Now, to your point, that’s not to say that it’s terrible to re-use a good idea. Or that anyone outside the ad industry recognizes this as a formula ad. It’s well done, nicely shot, has a recurring cast (the African teacher and her students were in the very first spot- this is the second or third)

    My fear is that it comes off as saying “well, if you have to use a PC, you’re in good company.” “Have to” being the operative words here. The next step in this campaign has to be to show us why these people are using a PC.

    One final thought: It’s interesting to see that Microsoft is clearly taking on Apple as if they were a major competitor and this was a Coke vs. Pepsi type situation. But as BIG Kahuna points out, Apple’s market share is much smaller that Microsoft’s, so we’re looking at Coke vs. RC or similar. But acknowledging Apple’s place as a primary competitor, are they inadvertently making Apple look bigger and more powerful than they actually are?

  8. Finn McKenty says:

    I complete agree! I saw these ads the other week and thought they were great. Justin Long is a funny dude, but way, way too smug and smarmy for most people to handle. The fact that all the blogs are hating on these ads means that they did exactly what they were supposed to.

    For what it’s worth, I work in design and every single person in our company (60+ people) uses a PC.

  9. I think the new Microsoft ads are great (particularly after the Seinfeld Gates ads) and definitely hit on the fact that the vast majority of computer users are “a PC”.

    I myself am a Mac user at home and relegated to using a PC at work. I switched to Mac several years ago and will likely never purchase another PC for my own use. That said, it was not the “I’m a Mac” ads that convinced me to switch, it was all word of mouth from other users.

    Dave, I do have to disagree with your comment that the Apple ads imply that using a PC makes you nerdy. My take on the ads is that they communicate that (and I have to agree) for the average user doing things like personal slideshows, working with pictures, e-mailing or keeping in touch with friends, etc., a Mac is a simpler machine and much less prone to errors.

    Anyway, I do think that the recent ads from Microsoft will help to build some pride in the ranks of PC users and that will be a good thing for the brand. I commend them for the quality of the ads and the idea, I think it will do quite well for them.

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  11. unico says:

    Such a cute commercial ^_^
    no bashing, no “you should use this”, no “this is better than that”, no bragging, not snideness.

    just a cute commercial with people who use computers and get them to work how they want.

    it also shows people together.

    i really dont get this whole PC vs Mac – EI vs FF vs Linux vs Opera battles
    i mean. just use what you want! if it works for you, than shouldnt that be enough? do you need to attack people based on what they use?

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