Even though I blogged about my bewilderment over Microsoft’s weird Seinfeld ads a few months ago, I’ve so far kept silent on Redmond’s latest ad campain, featuring “regular people” like Lauren and Giampolo who are sent out to find a good computer for $1000 or $1500. I saw the new commercials as soon as they came out, and honestly, they didn’t impact me one way or the other, despite my rabid Apple fanboyism.
As I thought about them, though, I really started to think that they were, well, dumb. Now, I think I can articulate a few reasons why. As a review, here’s Lauren:
First, this is an ad for Windows, right? Why, then, does Microsoft not once mention the word “Windows.” In fact, they don’t mention anything about the software at all. It’s a hardware contest based solely on price. In two of the three ad spots, it’s more of a commercial for HP than it is for Microsoft.
Second, it’s pretty stupid of them to make a point to say in all three ads that Macs are cooler than PCs. Seriously? They actually made ads that say (effectively), “Look, even we know you’d prefer a Mac, but money is tight right now, so here’s what you can realistically do with a thousand bucks.” That’s some strange marketing.
As Jim Dalrymple points out in a MacWorld article,
Apple executives must have been giggling like school girls when the ad featuring Lauren De Long debuted. “I’m just not cool enough to be a Mac person,” says Lauren after entering an Apple retail store.
Microsoft starts off by saying that Macs are cooler than PCs—regardless of how sarcastic it’s meant to be—and no matter what Lauren finds, that point stays with you. If you’ve seen the commercial, you know that Lauren’s goal is to find a 17-inch laptop for under $1,000—and she does. She settles on an HP. Congratulations HP, you aren’t cool enough either.
Third, as Dalrymple continues, “There is a big difference between the price of purchasing a computer and the cost of owning one.” That is, Macs come with all the software you need to do pretty much anything right out of the box. Plug it in, turn it on, and you’re off to the races. Have you set up a new Windows machine lately? Good grief, what a nightmare. It recently took me over 14 hours over a weekend to reinstall Windows on my mother-in-law’s computer. Halfway through the process, I was scanning Craigslist for used Macs I could just go buy her to save myself the trouble!
Fourth, and let’s just say it: Vista. Microsoft has pumped millions and millions of dollars into at least three different ad campains over the past six months, including the Seinfeld debacle, the “I’m a PC” spots, and these new “You find it, you keep it” ads. I defy you to find the word “Vista” in any one of these three different campaigns. Why should I have confidence in their flagship operating system if even they don’t?
In constrast, Apple talks about their OS X operating system non-stop. Why? Because they’re proud of it!
With their billions and billions of dollars, I know Microsoft is capable of making a decent commercial. I even think their spots featuring children using the Windows Live programs are brilliant. Who doesn’t love watching a four-year-old girl teach you how to edit a photo? That’s a great image.
However, Microsoft would apparently rather spend their money these days solidifying the notion that they are a cheaper, second-rate alternative to Apple. If I were a Windows fan, that’d irritate me—a lot.