I’m a PC. Am I?

22 09 2008

No I’m not. I’m a human being ūüėČ

That’s not just a silly pun, it’s more than that. It’s the refrain of a face to face war between two giants (at least in terms of market position -not share or penetration of course-) which reminds me those epic between Avis and Hertz, or the harsh ones between MCI and AT&T.

I used to enjoy of course¬†MAC vs PC spots. They were funny and elegant in design. I was also astonished by the tough move Apple was taking against the sleepy giant Microsoft. The clear objective was that of eroding Microsoft’s market share, yet it seemed to me a bit too aggressive the way Apple was carrying out that. In terms of comparative advertising I surely prefer more assertive positions to those based on denigrate the competitor. I must anyway admit that Apple showed courage by striking the sector leader to his face!

Despite all the provocations contained in Apple’s advertising campaign Microsoft never replied.

Now it seems that the giant has awaken from his sleep and is moving to react.

Here I only want to discuss about one of the three parts which at this point compose Microsoft’s new massive advertising campaign, that is to say the I’m a PC part.

The first time I spotted the banner I was on IGN and I was immediately aware that Microsoft’s job here was giving Apple a direct response by showing, as in a proof of force, they joined the war. The banner shown the classic Apple’s styled PC man as a cliffhanger for the reader. Of course I clicked it. The website hosting the campaign was similar as a concept to the defunct Project Mojave site. The page hosts dozens of playable video clips of common people all speeching “I’m a PC” plus some oddities. The clips are arranged one against the other in rows and columns and they move like a boat drifting an ill sea as you move the mouse around. Nausea sense apart, the concept is quite simple and clearly understandable to the audience. What is disturbing me it’s the persistent sense of understatement which doom all the part of the campaign. Without considering Jerry Seinfeld spots and the weak concept behind the payoff¬† Windows vs Walls, the sense of an unfocused effort is almost tangible. With the¬†I’m a PC campaign they are basically aiming one thing by doing two moves. First, they are referring to Apple’s PC vs MAC spots using the I’m a PC title and the loser styled guy. Second, they are talking-back Apple with the payoff “a PC is not a stereotype” and the clips from all possible type of people in the world using a PC. All this with the aim of answer back to Apple. C’mon men, that’s not an effective way to advertise your position. Moreover here they’re also making a faux pas in my opinion. To the uniqueness of the user model proposed by Apple, they respond with a multitude. This is quite a risky advertising move. The trick about classic advertising procedure is to show the consumer a model and in the meantime telling him/her (figuratively) that by using that product he/she will become like that model ore, at a lower level, transferring qualities carried/evoked by the product to the consumer. Almost all the spots work like that. With this spot instead Microsoft’s basically saying that by using their operating system you will be just a common person as you are. No inspiration is transmitted to the audience. This seems to me even more counterproductive considering that the avalanche of success Apple has is mostly due to the feeling of uniqueness and solidity their products are able to transmit to the user.

I really do hope Microsoft campaign could improve as the time passes. I am sincere when I say that I’m a bit concerned about the aggressiveness Apple is showing and the unstoppable success of their products. Despite all the glamour Apple is far more a close and reactionary company than Microsoft.

Image by gingerblokey licensed under this Creative Commons license