I’ll be the last one — Redfin has been busy with its company meeting last Friday– to say I love Microsoft’s new “I’m a PC” ad.
Doesn’t It Remind of You That Discovery Channel Ad?
But maybe I’m the first who wonders if it was inspired by The Discovery Channel’s “The World is Just Awesome” ad, which came out just as Microsoft hired Crispin to take on Apple?
Both jump around the world, posing wild animals alongside innovative, nerdy free-spirits, who don’t seem to mind chanting a corporate mantra.
The Ad Is Un-One-Uppable
As soon as I heard that Microsoft was taking on Apple: I thought, 1. “Good! About time!” and 2. “They’ve started a fight they can’t win. Apple will one-up them.” But the ad it turns out is un-one-uppable. (It must have been designed to be that way).
Who wants to go after people saving polar bears, teaching African children, converting cow pies into car fuel? In fact, the ad sort of kills for me the whole Apple campaign, which now seems so precious, insufferable, narrow, white and male. As Crispin folks explained to Danielle Sacks when they first took the Microsoft account, “To try to be cool is not to be cool.” Apple really tries to be cool.
Why Did It Take Us So Long to See That Apple is Kind of Mean?
Why did it take us so long to see that? I remember being shocked on learning years ago that the Apple “I’m a PC” ad couldn’t run in Japan, because consumers there don’t like snarky comparisons; I hadn’t realized until then that the luminescent, post-modern ads were such a dirty shiv to the gut.
And it wasn’t just me: friends who still love unicorn stickers and long walks on the beach loved watching the PC nerd (whom Slate’s Seth Stevenson always maintained was more likable than Apple’s hipster) getting humiliated in ever-more elaborate ways.
Apple is the Marketing Juggernaut, Microsoft is the Software Engineering Company
And why did it take so long for Microsoft to respond? We think of Apple as a products company, and Microsoft as a business behemoth, but Apple is the company that floods the airwaves with ads while Microsoft is mostly a company of software engineers. Every time I’m about to buy an Airbook, I wonder how much of its cost is its carefully constructed image.
That’s why I love it that Bill Gates is cast as the anti-Steve Jobs, wearing dorky clothes and glasses, even though he’s the one who’s really trying to save the world.
So what do you think? Is “I’m a PC” a take off on the “World is Just Awesome?”Is Microsoft the real product company, while Apple is the marketing juggernaut? And what percentage of a Mac’s price is marketing vs. say, of a Windows Dell? I’ll go with 40% and 20%.