How Should Apple Answer Microsoft’s New Ad Campaign?

April 20th, 2009

This weekend, more of Apple’s neat Mac versus PC vignettes came out. While the usual Windows flaws, such as susceptibility to malware, were covered, Apple was careful not to respond to Microsoft’s latest marketing attempts to regain lost ground for the Windows platform.

It’s not as if Apple didn’t respond at all. Corporate communications rep Bill Evans previously made a few pithy comments to the tech media that “”A PC is no bargain when it doesn’t do what you want.”

Naturally, he was referencing those frenetic ads in which Microsoft sends someone into a store to buy a note-book computer with a fixed budget. In each case, the buyers acquire an HP portable with questionable performance, one that wasn’t likely to perform to their expectations. But at least they had a choice.

When you look at those ads, you have to wonder what possessed these people to make those selections, unless, of course, HP secretly paid part of the bill. Even then, HP has a huge product lineup, and they have models that would have been more competitive with the Macs and likely would have better suited the needs of these buyers. So I suppose it also proves that someone who buys a PC with Windows, when given a lot of choices, will tend to make poor selections.

Take that Microsoft!

I’m not altogether sure whether Microsoft even realizes the sort of message they’ve conveyed. Their intention, of course, was to prove that you have more options at lower prices with their platform, but you have to recall what Bill Evans said about that. In the auto industry, you can also purchase products that lack basic features in order to save money, but does that also represent your best choice?

Now, despite the obvious flaws, it’s always possible that Microsoft’s expanded ad campaign will actually have a positive result, and halt Apple’s growing curve beyond the end of the current recession. After all, most people are not going to be able to deconstruct these ads in the way the Mac media has been doing. The images will just flash by and perhaps there will be some sort of impact. Perhaps. Unfortunately, I’m not in the ad business, so I wouldn’t presume to be able to offer a qualified opinion.

Putting myself in the position of the consumer, however, I don’t think these ads, with their frantic style, are going to have much of an impact. The message that you have a choice on the Windows platform isn’t well conveyed, and there are few choice moments to recall. This is quite unlike the truly effective Windows ads that have been broadcast from time to time, featuring children who are able to do such things as easily edit photos on their PCs.

Indeed, that specific campaign caught my attention above the usual clutter, and it carried a message that Microsoft, for whatever reason, seems unable to expand upon.

As far as Apple is concerned, I don’t think they need to do anything beyond what they’ve done already. The concern about Microsoft’s ads was discussed in the tech media, and that’s where Apple confined its response.

The rest of the public, most of whom don’t follow PC platform debates, were given, instead, a new lineup of Apple ads that present the same friendly Mac versus PC rivalry that has been so successful in the past, with the same basic concepts. Macs are simple to use and secure, while Windows PCs are malware-ridden machines that create endless frustration. End of story.

Anything that truly addresses the specifics of Microsoft’s ad campaign — whichever one they choose to concentrate on this week — would only draw more attention to the originals. A defensive attitude of that sort would surely best serve Microsoft’s interests, so it won’t happen.

It’s also questionable just where Microsoft will focus their efforts next. They could, perhaps, continue to pour modest sums of money into the hands of preselected shills and follow them around with video cameras expecting them to make the appropriate purchase decisions, as they will. After all, that’s the essence of the marching orders they received when they agreed to participate.

I also hope they at least get proper union wages for appearing in those ads, and residuals when they are repeated. Isn’t that the way the standard contracts are written?

Then again, Apple will continue to do best by ignoring the media, ignoring (for the most part) Microsoft’s pathetic efforts to save their falling market share, and producing ads that not only attract attention but remain memorable.

More to the point, Apple continues to build products that basically back up the claims. Could you say the same of Microsoft? How many of their campaigns truly relate to their products in a similar fashion?

Consider that famous campaign for Windows ’95 that featured “Start Me Up!” by The Rolling Stones. Did Microsoft ever read the lyrics, particularly the phrase “You make a grown man cry”?

Anyone who has spent extended face time coping with Windows bugs and malware would agree.

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6 Responses to “How Should Apple Answer Microsoft’s New Ad Campaign?”

  1. shane blyth says:

    Business as usual. I dont think Apple needs to spend more than a few fleeting moments looking at the new MS ad campaign. I think MS when Windows 7 comes out should start a different sort of campaign and focus on the good number 7. I think Apple has more to worry about WIndows 7 in the future than Vista in the present. Still we will see…
    I hope MS gets a few things more right in 7 It looks better than Vista and a little more Mac like to look at in some ways. By then Snow Leopard and hopefully a new iphone and OS 3 and a possible Giant iPhone tablet thingy may be out and with all that to rave about I think it will cause alot more interest than just an OS namely Win 7 .. Apple has alot more to advertise because they dont just sell software. I think that alone is a massive advantage to them.

  2. mcloki says:


    That’s all it takes or Apple to respond to MS ads. Sure MS is hitting with price right now but that is short lived. This all reminds me of a Quote by Winston Churchill.
    I may be drunk, Miss, but in the morning I will be sober and you will still be ugly. Winston Churchill.

    To paraphrase for Apple
    I may be expensive, Miss, but next season I will be cheaper and you will still be ugly.
    I expect inferior products to be cheaper. Not to slight Windows or Vista too much, but they are what they are, utilitarian and functional. I don’t and won’t pay more for that.

  3. tom b says:

    shane blyth wrote:

    I think Apple has more to worry about WIndows 7 in the future than Vista in the present.

    I doubt 7 will be a concern. The usual paid MSFT shill “journalists” have ooohed and ahhhed over the pre-release betas of 7, but, remember, 7 is still not UNIX based. When it is released in the wild, it will almost certainly have the same stability, performance, and security issues that have dogged Windows forever. And the UI will still be quirky and unhelpful.

  4. Andrew says:

    Not sure about that. I’ve been testing 7 (currently using Build 7057 of the beta) and it is already faster than Vista and equally stable (which means very stable). I have yet to have a single BSOD-type crash on 7 and haven’t on Vista since SP1.

    Mac is a much more elegant system, but the dark side isn’t as dark as it used to be.

  5. DaveD says:

    From what I can tell, Apple is focusing on making its hardware/software ecosystem even more desirable.

    Borrowing from the game of baseball, Apple’s batting average would be a dream for any player in the majors. Very low strikeouts, some home runs and lots of hits. CEO Steve Jobs having heard “If you build it, they will come.”

    The OS wars have long been over. Microsoft had won by hook and crook with Windows 95. The experience of using a PC became more like a Mac. Apple has never looked back because of its leadership role. Strange how much the sense of inadequacies are coming from Microsoft and Windows users. Complaining how expensive Macs are when they have the market, a share around 90%. What is wrong with this picture? I am reminded of an old SNL skit starring William Shatner at a Star Trek convention telling the Trekkers to “get a life.”

    Having years of experience using Windows (from 3.1), I very much prefer using my Macs. I do troubleshooting work on my friends’ Windows (XP and Vista) machines. But, I had told them to not tell anyone else about my Windows knowledge because my head hurts too much afterward.

  6. justme says:

    I always hated the Start me up ad… I always wished Apple had offered a proper response… I’ve always thought Apple should have Mick sitting at a Dell or HP, being presented by the worst of the worst Windows problems, (Satisfaction playing) only to toss the computer off a balcony… (then silence) Cut to Keith sitting there, calmly surfing on a Mac or going through some photos in iPhoto… (A MBA now maybe) say, “Mick, just get a Mac”. Go to black with the words “Get some satisfaction, get a Mac”.

    I’m still waiting for that ad…

    I still don’t get the new MS ads… Have any of the “shoppers” actually gotten what they said they wanted in the first place? Giampalo said he wanted “portability” and “battery life”.. um, how the hell is a 16″ laptop that weighs 7+ lbs “portable”??? “I don’t think that means what you think it means”. “Portable” compared to what, exactly? A Mac Pro? A SVS subwoofer? A Sherman tank? (granted I’ve never understood why anyone would want a laptop w/ an LCD bigger than 15″ Mac or Windows) And I think we’ve seen the battery info for this laptop posted elsewhere… inadequate may be a polite way to put it… If they’d had the “shopper” buy a new Dell netbook maybe…. compare the “portability” and cost of Apple’s most sleek/portable laptop vs a netbook ….. but a 16″ 7+lb brick w/ crappy battery life? Huh?

    So Giampalo saved money by not getting anything that he *said* he wanted (portability a good battery life)…. um… wtf? I can save money by buying a skateboard instead of a used car…. but if I start out shopping for a means to get to and from work in the rain….

    MS should stick to ads directed at MS customers too dense to understand that the Mac and PC in Apple’s ads are *computers* and not people… at least the kids were cute and adorable in the “Awww isn’t that cute how MS is exploiting them” kinda way… at least they were somewhat positive and memorable … I don’t see much point to the new ads..

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