Microsoft’s New Ad Is Actually Pretty Good

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Microsoft's New Ad Is Actually Pretty Good

The more I watch Microsoft's new ad for Windows, the more I like it.


The more I watch Microsoft’s new ad for Windows, the more I like it.

The ad, which debuted on Thursday night, successfully counters the idea promoted by Apple that PCs are bumbling buffoons personified by prematurely middle-aged businessmen.

Instead, the ad convincingly portrays the PC as part of global culture, unpretentious and down-to-earth.

The ad starts with a John Hodgman-alike Microsoft engineer, who proudly declares: “I’m a PC, and I am not alone.” It then swings through Europe, Africa, America and back again, showing people of all nations declaring simply one after the other: “I’m a PC.”

It ends with author Deepak Chopra, who says: “We are all a PC, inseparably one.”

Watch it carefully. The people and locations of the ad clearly reflect Bill Gates’ concerns about the world: disease, poverty, education and opportunity. Bill Gates makes a appearance (a welcome one. I admire him giving away his money), and there’s quite a few people from developing countries in this ad: something I’ve never seen in Apple’s marketing.

They’re real people, with accents and bad teeth (like me). I find it a refreshing antidote to the fake youthfulness of Apple’s iPod silhouettes and the insufferable, elitist hipster who personifies the Mac on TV.

I like Microsoft’s new ad because it portrays the PC through the very ordinary people that use these machines every day — and some extraordinary ones. It’s the opposite of Apple’s phony lifestyle advertising. It’s refreshingly egalitarian. It’s like “The Wire” versus “Law and Order.” Plus, there’s no sign of Jerry Seinfeld.

UPDATE: Two more new ads after the jump.

“I’m a PC and I wear glasses.”

“I’m a PC and I’ve been made into a stereotype.”

44 responses to “Microsoft’s New Ad Is Actually Pretty Good”

  1. HandyMac says:

    Agreed; though I’ve used nothing but Macs since I got my first computer (a Mac Plus) twenty years ago, I’ve always disliked Apple’s ads. I don’t use Macs because I’m cool or hip or whatever (though as a bonafide member of the 60s generation I can remember when hip was not a marketing gimmick), but only because they’re far superior (in my view) to any alternative — both the OS and the hardware (I’ve never yet seen a non-Apple PC I’d want to live with purely on esthetic grounds).

    And this ad is not bad, though it still has a playing catch-up feeling — which seems odd, considering Microsoft’s market share. I mean, why does Microsoft have to “respond” to Apple’s advertising? Why don’t they just, er, make a better product? Then Apple would not be any kind of threat.

    The problem with this ad, though it’s not bad in itself, is that it does not in any way reflect the real character of Microsoft, which could not care less about “real people” in developing countries or anywhere else. Actually, considering that nowhere is Windows mentioned, it might make a good ad for Ubuntu Linux, which *is* making good progress in developing countries, for the right reasons. I’d switch to Linux myself, if I weren’t already spoiled by the Mac.

    But no amount of cute advertising could make me switch to Windows. The real difference between this ad and Apple’s is that Apple’s advertising is inferior to its products, which are real, and really superior, while this ad is… well, the fact that it inspires commentary like this (“not bad, considering it’s from Microsoft”) says it all.

  2. Hubspin says:

    While the new PC ad is much more humane than the humorlessly cliched Mac hipster elite it’s funny how both campaigns are in conflict with the philosophy of the products they are representing (Mac=user friendly, PC=business rigid).

    Time to, uhm, switch (campaign)?

  3. Sam says:

    Having embedded YouTube videos is exceptionally annoying, especially for those who have this blog set to open with a group. I have removed it from mine but will be back when this story makes it off the main page.

  4. Craig Grannell says:

    @Sam – YouTube shouldn’t make any odds, since it’s not set to autoplay. What browser are you using, and what’s the video doing?

  5. Wayne Kilburn says:

    This is a good ad. It definitely puts a human face to Microsoft. But, right now (in my mind) it does not resonate with the MS brand.

    The reason the Apple ads have been successful is that they tap into what many people already perceive to be true about Apple – easy to use products that “just work”, innovative software, stylish design, creative capabilities, etc.

    For the new MS ad campaign to truly be effective, MS will need to sync products, user experience and corporate behavior with the ads to create a complete marketing package. In other words, don’t just talk – BE what you want people to believe you to be.

  6. jaywiese says:

    Wow! Social Proof! (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S… I’m-a switch!

  7. Robert H says:

    If any one of these people looked into a mac then they wouldn’t even of stepped foot into that commercial. They were probably paid to say “I’m a PC” not realizing where there likeliness was going to.

  8. JW says:

    This ad will not switch users. It’s more of a pat on the back of windows users. Watching this I feel it’s celebrating an event that’s a non-event. Like holding a party for every time you switch on the lights in your house. Lights go on, hurrah! Lights go on, hurrah! Lights go on… etc… ad nauseam.

    I’m waiting for PC Pride marches down the streets of Redmond.

    Besides being a lovely celebration of humanity, it an incredibly boring and generic ad. Yawn!

  9. dh says:

    We already know there are millions of PC users. So what ? Are they Lemmings ?
    What MS can’t do is tell you about the superiority of Vista and why you should use it instead of Mac …. because it’s inferior in so many ways.

    Apple’s next step should be to have former PC users step up and tell us why they switched to Mac and tell us how much happier they are with Mac and why PC users should switch. MS has started a battle they can’t win.

  10. DAK says:

    Oh, please. Why not just run a “We are the world” video. It’s reminiscent of the old Coca Cola ad, “I’d like to teach the world to sing.” There is nothing in this commercial that would make me go out to buy a PC.

    As for admiring Bill Gates for giving away his money….he can afford it. If I had his money, I’d give it away too. But I don’t have that kind of bucks so I spend my money on the essentials like food, clothing, gasoline, Macintoshes. Yeah, nothing to admire there.

  11. joemsak says:

    What does MS care about PCs if Windows can be installed on macs anyway?

  12. AK says:

    I think you missed the point of the “Get A Mac” ads. The PC character is NOT meant to represent PC USERS, but a PC that is forced to run Windows. I think MS and Crispin are also missing the point, and this ad just shows how threatened MS is by Apple’s ad campaign. Defensive and boring.

  13. beeDevil says:

    I wonder how many of these PC users have Visita … and how many downgraded to XP. :-)

  14. EJ says:

    @JW:
    The ad doesn’t need to switch users; the whole point is to make PC users feel better about being PC users so that they are more confident in the brand and aren’t lured away.

    I like the ads well enough, but they are defensive by nature. And unfortunately, they don’t address the main problem — no one I know of has a problem with having a PC, but they do have a problem with Vista. I’ve had several family members switch back to XP when Vista did not work out for them; it was a fairly painful process.

    The Mac/PC ads from Apple are currently reinforcing the idea that going with the Mac OS is an easy and acceptable alternative to going through the hassle of upgrading to Vista, and they’re doing so by educating people (in an oversimplified, slightly biased way) about Vista’s flaws and about the features and services Apple has to offer.

    If Microsoft doesn’t counter that, then they will continue to have problems.

  15. Craig says:

    This is a watershed moment if you think about it. Microsoft is actually acknowledging Apple’s threat in a major ad campaign. They’re essentially inserting Apple into the equation, even though Apple has a tenth of their market share. Guess what? This is going to backfire, as it places Apple that more squarely into people’s mind as a Windows alternative. Why else would the most powerful technology company in the world “fight back” against them?

    Stay tuned… double-digit share is now pretty much assured.

  16. Wayne Kilburn says:

    JW wrote: “This ad will not switch users. It’s more of a pat on the back of windows users. “

    Precisely. These ads are all about stemming the flow of users away from MS products. This is a defensive marketing maneuver. MS recognizes that Apple, Linux and Google are eating away their market share.

  17. just_me says:

    Great ad, but it’s more like vaporware: everyone knows Windows sucks. It reflects misunderstanding of what branding is. It’s like Fight Club — First rule of branding: make a good product. Second rule: improve your good product… and so on.. ;)
    I still can’t understand how the richest guy in the world could not set up a super team of programmers and make Windows a solid system.
    As to Mac users being elitists, sorry, but it sounds just like republicans calling democrats elitists. Call me elitist, snob, whatever… but just don’t make me use Windows ever again ;)

  18. Sheshank says:

    the people in the ads are cool.
    but ummm… what makes them [windows] pcs ?
    why are they not linux-boxes ?
    or macs ?

    “i’m a mac” has a communicated marketing message.
    “i’m a pc” just says “cool people use pcs too”.

    compelling ?

  19. be real says:

    Come on folks- especially you Handymac. The Apple ads do not imply that pc USERS are stodgy. They imply that pc’s THEMSELVES are stodgy. Apple is not attacking anyone- not a particular stereotype, not a persona, not nerds or geeks. They are lighthearted and they put a spin on how utterly poorly designed and unuser-friendly a pc is and how (since windows) they are always trying to be like macs. Both characters are likable. They’re not about criticizing a particular class of people- they’re about making fun of Microsoft. The pc ads seem purely reactionary and defensive, almost mean at times. They’re just not very good. Like every other run of the mill ad they will come and go until MS plonks down another half-billion dollars on their next campaign against Apple. All the power to you Bill. Thank god I’ve got a choice. Thank you Apple.

  20. Packrat says:

    I especially love the “I’m a Mac” ad where they tell you how many games they can play on the Mac.

    Waitaminute.

    That said, don’t feed the troll. I’m just saying that different people will have different uses for different boxes and that some really like Windows because of the programs they can run on them.

  21. TheForestAuro says:

    Hey, I hear you can play the Lego Star Wars game on Macs now!

  22. vwman67 says:

    If Microsoft has spent 300 mill on it few new ads.
    How much has apple spent on the 15+ ad’s for the mac and pc guys ads. and about the the hole dame thing about the new ads being made with mac’s how about this the dame robotic assailable line that mac’s are made on controlled by pc’s is that not ironic.