20
Oct
08

Strange Microsoft Commercials

I wrote recently of the new Microsoft ad featuring Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Gates having a rambling discussion about everything except actual Microsoft products (including edible computers). After only two weeks of airing the commercial has been pulled however not because of its bewildering nature. Microsoft top dogs say that this was part of the original plan. Now Microsoft has begun running a direct retaliation to Apple’s Mac vs. PC campaign. The commercial begins with an actual Microsoft employee dressed as the “PC” (as portrayed by John Hodgman in the Apple ads) who proclaims “I am a PC and I have been made into a stereotype.” The ad then begins to show different folks, from Microsoft employees to celebrities, who use Windows.

Microsoft has stated that the Seinfeld spot as well as this new advertisement are simply the beginnings of an overall story arc despite the fact that they may seem unrelated. The short-term purpose of the new spot is to state that PC users are nothing like the stereotype that the Apple ads have made them out to be.

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My response to this last statement would be “no, but their computers are.” PC and Mac (portrayed by Hodgman and Justin Long, respectively) are not meant to represent users but products and, by extension, the companies who make them. Indeed there are many different types of personal computer users who come from a variety of backgrounds with a variety of tasks they want to accomplish on their computers. There are business-owners and artists, accountants and designers, marketing execs and musicians. The point of the “I’m a Mac, I’m a PC” ads is to say “whatever your purpose for your computer, why would you ever use a product that limits what you can achieve? Why would you pay money for a product which is nowhere near diverse enough to meet all of the computing needs you may have?” Their purpose is not to say “if you use a Windows machine then you must wear a beige suit and act dorky.” Or that “you must be a suit-wearing, breifcase-totin’ IBM type.” The ads are using anthropromorphism, not stereotypes.

Josh

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5 Responses to “Strange Microsoft Commercials”


  1. 1 Miss Debie
    October 21, 2008 at 4:16 pm

    You are absolutely right!Now, If I could just convince Mr Jerry of that so he would buy me one!!!

  2. 2 Miss Debbie
    October 21, 2008 at 4:17 pm

    Oops! it’s a shame when you misspell your own name!!

  3. October 21, 2008 at 4:43 pm

    Just put only a mac on your christmas list.

  4. October 21, 2008 at 9:33 pm

    Their purpose is not to say “if you use a Windows machine then you must wear a beige suit and act dorky.” Or that “you must be a suit-wearing, breifcase-totin’ IBM type.”

    Sorry, man. Gotta disagree here. I like Macs and all, but really – surely you know enough about marketing to realize that the stereotype of the user is intended to be inferred by anyone watching, and this attempt is usually successful. That’s why it’s the Marlboro man and not Mr. Business Exec that smokes Marlboros. You and I both know the stereotype of the kind of person who likes Macs, and that stereotype bears a striking resemblance to Justin Long’s character. The Microsoft ads were developed in response to their own marketing consultants who were in turn responding to the consumer response to the Mac/PC commercials in the first place. In fact, I’d contend that the reason they pulled the lame Seinfeld commercials was to put out a recently-identified fire: people watching the Mac/PC commercials associated Macs with cool/em> and PCs with out of touch dorks.

  5. October 21, 2008 at 9:49 pm

    On an unrelated note, I notice in myself an alarming trend toward an increase in hyphenation. The comment above only contained one clausal hyphen (and that one was not altogether misplaced), but it also contained a hyphen in between an adverb and the adjective it modifies: “recently-identified”. I should not have used that hyphen. I beg the clemency of the grammar gods.


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