I’m a PC—and I’m desperate for people to like me

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PC user in “I’ve got a beard” shocker!

Leander already wrote about the new Microsoft ads, noting that they convincingly portray “the PC as part of global culture, unpretentious and down-to-earth”.

But, really, they say very little. Instead of finding these adverts a refreshing antidote to the brash and somewhat tiresome arrogance of Apple’s ads, they just come across as a feeble and overly defensive response, like a weedy geek whimpering “stop picking on me, dammit!” Microsoft should have blazed on to the scene, proving its worth and reasoning why it’s better than Apple, or at least hammered home its point with a little humor.

Instead, we get dry, by-the-numbers, designed-by-committee adverts that are borderline nauseating. Little more than a self-congratulatory pat on the back, they tell us what we already know: lots of people use PCs, and PCs can be used for diverse things. Thrilling. They don’t say lives can be made better by using PCs, nor do they provide any compelling reason whatsoever to check out Microsoft’s output over the competition. (Possible exception: beard lovers.) They’re also dull, unimaginative and unoriginal, riffing weakly off of Apple’s ideas, rather than Microsoft coming up with its own. While that might make them very relevant to Microsoft, that doesn’t make them good adverts.

Apple’s gains on Microsoft haven’t been down to advertising—in fact, one might argue that Apple’s advertisements actually put many people off the brand. Instead, they’ve been down to user experience, and rallying against complacency. Until Microsoft can offer similarly persuasive arguments, I can’t see its adverts convincing anyone to stick with ‘PC’, let alone switch to it.

26 responses to “I’m a PC—and I’m desperate for people to like me”

  1. Francois says:

    Oh c’mon that a similar ad like the long forgotten think different ad.

    “I can’t see its adverts convincing anyone to stick with ‘PC’, let alone switch to it.”

    Well it’s nothing of the usual brain-washing ads made by Apple. That’s true and I don’t like Windows but switching to Apple would be similar to just shut down the computer.

  2. A says:

    “…dry, by-the-numbers, designed-by-committee adverts that are borderline nauseating.” “…dull, unimaginative and unoriginal, riffing weakly off of Apple’s ideas, rather than Microsoft coming up with its own.”

    Sounds like a typical PC/Microsoft…
    I kid, I kid (or do i?).

  3. ian says:

    While I admit the defensive tone, with the PC look alike and such only validates Apple’s approach, you have to admit they are well executed.NO?

    If they ignored the Apple ads and did something else we’d all cry that they have their heads in the sand. They tackle them straight on, and suddenly its a wimpy defensive move.

    I doubt anything Microsoft would do would get a postive response here from it’s readers. Remember it’s called Cult of MAC

  4. Craig Grannell says:

    They’re well executed like a really dull corporate brochure is well executed. However, they have no soul, no passion, and nothing much to say. You don’t tackle Apple head-on by saying nothing and by preaching to the converted – especially when you have the bulk of the market. Instead, you need something new, exciting and/or interesting to say.

  5. The Rude Bellman says:

    Hi. I work for the CDC and I’m a PC. I spend my days fighting viruses all day long and in my extra time I try to find cures for disease.

    Can’t wait to see the blowback on these sorry and lame commercials.

  6. Kontra says:

    The ad agency behind “Windows. Life Without Walls” is Crispin Porter + Bogusky. Their principal tactic in a number of recent ad campaigns has been the notion of perception reversing.
    […]
    Therein lies Microsoft’s problem. Perception reversing by appropriating your enemy’s words can work only if your insurgency has an identifiable goal. Witness Apple which effectively used its insurgent status to barge into the consumer desktop, digital music and cellphone businesses and changed them in alignment with users’ shared aspirations.

    Microsoft, one of the most lucrative monopolies ever, however, is no insurgent. Its enemy is smaller, cooler, better liked, more nimble, more creative and more aligned with users. So Microsoft has to not only show “it’s OK to use Windows” but tell us why it’s better and show us a goal that we can all identify with that the enemy cannot provide.

    Microsoft “I’m a PC” ads are channeling Apple’s “Crazy Ones”
    http://counternotions.com/2008

  7. Wayne Kilburn says:

    Of course the ads are a defensive tactic. MS recognizes that Apple, Google, et al are serious threats. The first step in protecting a market leadership position is to stem the flow of customers moving away from your product. Ads alone won’t be enough to change a perception. Products, corporate behavior and advertising must resonate to convince users that MS is really something different than what is currently perceived.

    Translation – MS knows they’re in deep yogurt, and unless they do something about Vista and the way they act as a corporation, all the ads in the world won’t change a thing.

  8. Anonymous Coward says:

    Kontra has a good point there. More fundamentally, though:
    Why do Microsoft waste millions advertising themselves and/or the Windows brand at all?
    Here’s an idea: why don’t they take all that money and, I don’t know, actually spend it on trying to make better products??

    Pretty much anyone who’s been near a computer is aware of the Windows brand if not Microsoft. And they’ve already formed their perceptions, based on personal experience. Which generally ranges from “well it’s not perfect but gets the job done”, to “who cares, it’s what everybody uses”, to Microsoft being something approaching the antichrist.

    Aspirational advertising is not going to change such perceptions in a hurry. Even if people like the adverts, they don’t really tell them anything new e.g. why to use Windows, and they don’t relate to people’s real-life experience of it.
    Faced with such a discrepancy, viewers take a negotiated reading of the adverts’ contents, or just dismiss them entirely.

    So just who are the adverts in aid of (apart from the advertising agencies paid to make them, most of whom use Macs)?

    Large corporates buy thousands of PCs on support contracts regardless.
    People with specialist needs e.g. high-end gaming tend to know what they want anyway. Advertising from specific computer manufacturers might sway them, but not abstract whimsical Microsoft – or for that matter Intel – adverts.

    Ordinary people who walk into a shop and buy a Windows PC (as opposed to, say, an X-Box) do so based on factors like price, fear of the unfamiliar, absence of alternatives in-store or lack of understanding of the benefits of said alternatives. They upgrade only when their old computer becomes unusable. Not “because I saw these cool adverts”.

    Perhaps this advertising is a feeble attempt at damage limitation? To try to make beleaguered Windows users, and Microsoft, feel better about themselves.
    Apple’s growing market share figures would seem to indicate it isn’t working particularly well…

  9. John says:

    When I saw that ad I kept thinking of how to complete their sentences. It’d be a great SNL skit.

    I’m a PC … and I’m not wearing pants.
    I’m a PC … because I didn’t get the memo.
    I’m a PC … but I’m switching to a Mac.

  10. L says:

    Sorry, but people with beards in the Western world are generally individualists, and any individualist who knows anything about Windows, Vista, and Mac OS X is most likely a Mac user.

    I’m typing this on a Windows PC at work, hoping it doesn’t crash my browser, as it did five times yesterday, or give me a BSOD, which it does with clockwork-like regularity.

    Mac’s running OS X do indeed blow away both Windows and the world champion bloatware, Vista. Mac hardware is also very nice, and utterly destroys the high-end Dell POS I have to use at work.

    Thus, count me as a bearded guy who uses a Mac and OS X at home, but, like the 1984 commercial, is forced into the drudgery of using a Windows PC at work.

  11. Torley says:

    Simply: the fact that these Microsoft ads make direct reference to Apple’s is a testament to Apple’s advertising influence.

    If it didn’t matter and Microsoft didn’t perceive it as a threat, it wouldn’t be an issue.

  12. Jib says:

    Windows – Life Without (Fire)Walls? :-D

  13. James K says:

    I’m Deepak Chopra and I’m a PC.

    The Buddah says that one must experience pain to appreciate the pleasure – My Mac arrives next week.