Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Apple Talk to Itself... Again

I've been meaning to write something about those "I'm a PC, I'm a Mac" ads for a while, and this funny piece from the Guardian (UK) finally motivated me. The ads have reached Britain, almost identical except for using local talent:

The ads are adapted from a near-identical American campaign - the only difference is the use of Mitchell and Webb. They are a logical choice in one sense (everyone likes them), but a curious choice in another, since they are best known for the television series Peep Show - probably the best sitcom of the past five years - in which Mitchell plays a repressed, neurotic underdog, and Webb plays a selfish, self-regarding poseur. So when you see the ads, you think, "PCs are a bit rubbish yet ultimately lovable, whereas Macs are just smug, preening tossers." In other words, it is a devastatingly accurate campaign.

Indeed. The ads are quite clever; I really question how effective they are at making any PC user actually want a Mac, though.

Many of claims are simply wrong; particularly the claim that Macs are for "fun" stuff like photos and music - things that millions of PC users happily use their computers for. They tell PC users that they are boring geeks who made a stupid purchase. And the Mac guy (in the US version, at least) is so annoying that even when the claims are right (for example, the virus spot), you still want to smack him.

As someone who's used both flavors of computer extensively, the ads make me laugh - and then make me never want to buy another Mac, because I just don't want to be one of them.

Apple's doing what it so often does: preaching to its choir, while the rest of the congregation gets bored and leaves. The ads probably do have some customer retention value, helping convince current Mac users that they are cool and smart and that the dock is actually a good idea, not a UI travesty.

Maybe that's enough; maybe they even knew that when the planned the campaign. Like so much of Apple's advertising, though, it stinks of sadly misapplied creativity. Too bad.

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