Blog Post

Microsoft’s New “I’m A PC” Ads Air; Something Is Fundamentally Wrong

Tonight, during The Office, Microsoft began airing its “phase 2” of their $300 million ad campaign (after giving Seinfeld the boot) which features regular, everyday users saying “I’m A PC”…yes, it’s a direct response to Apple’s I’m A Mac/I’m A PC ads.

The ads are actually better than I thought they’d be but something still just doesn’t sit right for me. I still don’t feel like they’re selling their brand or even their products. Sure, all of these people say they are “a PC”, but I’m not sure everyone will equate that to the Microsoft brand.

As John Gruber so eloquently put it, the problem here isn’t that the ads themselves are bad – in fact they are quite well made – the problem is that Microsoft effectively doesn’t have anything to sell. They don’t stand for anything. They’re just there. A “blah” company, if you will.

Where Microsoft is so painfully failing is that they don’t have a product worth selling. They can thrown money at branding campaigns but until they have something that actually creates a positive user experience for the masses, they’ll always been throwing away money by trying to improve their brand perception.

At the end of the day Microsoft has a fundamental product problem, not a brand problem.

Here are a few different versions of the new ads. Check them out and let me know what you think.

40 Responses to “Microsoft’s New “I’m A PC” Ads Air; Something Is Fundamentally Wrong”

  1. u kidding

    #28. U r kidding right? That has to be the dumbest comment ever. So apple created all of these ads just for those people that already bought a mac they make ads not for sales. Now that’s a marketing department I want to work for!

  2. @Aaron: Yes, it’s nice to try to make the people like the brand again, but with what? With PR? I don’t think that Mac users bought the $2000 Macbook Pros because of some stupid “I’m a Mac” advertisement. They usually watch the ads *after* they bought it and laughing maybe.

    Where is the product’s (that is: Windows) innovative feature that will make it stand out from the competition? And what version of windows that is? Vista or XP(2001 software, if i’m not wrong)? Personally, even though I liked the aero look of vista I never (finally) enjoyed using them. They were too confusing, too heavy and really not straight-to-the-point.

    On the other hand, MS OFfice (2007) really is beyond competition (at least for now). They could advertise *this* and build their marketing strategy *upon* their product. It’s completely stupid to try to promote a brand without a product! It’s also completely stupid (or I could say desperate?) to try to promote a product that people doesn’t like (at least a big percentage of them) and they have proven this!

    Rebuild the product, make people like it and THEN take back the lost market from Apple (or whatever vendor that is).

  3. “I’m a PC.” (… and I haven’t had a computer virus in 8 years.)

    I have to respectfully disagree with your post. MS’s biggest problem IS their brand, NOT their products. Their products, although far from perfect, are beyond good and very competitive. The criticism that were laid on PC’s in “Mac vs PC” primarily stem from “cheap” PC’s, tech-wary users, and third-party (driver) blunders. Mac is trying to convince us that their “grass is so much greener”, but is it really? Not every PC is a tired gray box, and many, many people happen to love their PC’s (including your’s truly).

    It seems to me that it has become entirely too “cool” and “trendy” nowadays to dis’ Microsoft and its products. “The big guy” is always fair game, of course, but it’s getting pretty extreme. You can say almost anything negative about Microsoft and you hardly need to prove it anymore. So I am glad that Microsoft is trying to make people like the brand again, it is probably the best possible place to invest the money.


  4. I think Bras is right. Look at how the Apple ads work:

    As each ad opens, the two utter their famous tag lines, “Hi, I’m a PC!” and “Hi, I’m a Mac!”

    Notice that neither one says anything about an operating system there. But that is the whole purpose of the ad, to promote Mac OS X, because the Mac guy usually says something about how cool OS X is and what it can do, and the PC guy responds with some form of frustration over having to run Windows. Yeah, sometimes the order is reversed, and sometimes, they leave out the OS X name as an explicit mention, but the PC guy is ALWAYS expressing some form of frustration over how he is either stymied or frustrated or otherwise held back by Windows – or is frustrated by the Mac OS’ growing popularity or ease of use. The ad mainly is intended to emphasize the fact that the Mac OS runs on Apple hardware, and Windows runs on generic equipment, which explains their issues and problems. Hence the identification of the two actors with equipment, not Operating Systems.

    In the new Microsoft ads, they NEVER mention Vista, and the “common folk” depicted never mention it either. They utter that famous tag line, “I’m a PC”, but do not align themselves with Vista or Windows at all. I think that is a mistake. Their ads bring up the image of the Mac ads by using Apple’s line, which has already been evoked through the imitation of the Hodgeman character! It is an axiom of advertising that the #1 never mentions the #2, because to do so lends credibility to #2’s claims and makes #1 look desperate. Microsoft should be building the Vista brand, not generic PCs, and should certainly not be allowing their target audience to think about Apple!

    And they don’t even make PCs…

  5. Couldn’t agree more with PC #16 ( :P )

    The truth is that I expected something more offensive and less cool (wanna-be) – then we could grab some popcorn and enjoy the show :)

    Now, what’s next – Canonical’s response with another series of ads which will say “I’m cool” too? Nahhh… Linux is liberal, Windows is classic and Mac is innovative. And that’s why I use them all – each tool for the right job ;)

    My 2 cents

  6. What effect will these ads have?…

    Well look at the AAPL stock. It´s now going up! up! and up! :-) :-) :-)

    We (the consumer/stockholder) knows what´s coming. These ads are just a cry for help!

  7. Its funny. Apple’s market share is small (what 14%) compared to PC. I agree with #9 Ronald up there. If they created an ad campaign that said:
    “I’m a PC, america’s infrastructure runs on me, I have real work to do” – they could pretty much stick it in Apple’s face. Then of course at the end they could bring Jerry back and say:
    “You can buy a MAC and have fun….not that there’s anything wrong with that”

  8. #8 Luca –

    Actually, in the 80’s there was a great and fun series of ads between McDonalds, Burger King and Wendys all poking at the other. It was always fun to see what the next round of commercials would bring from each of them.

    I actually like this particular set of ads, and it could be quite fun to see how Apple responds.

    The Microsoft ads I don’t care for are the Vista “Window Mojave” ads. Do any of these people actually use computers? Most of them seem to be responding almost as if they’ve never seen an OS before.

  9. Isn’t this Coke Pepsi all over again? Pepsi calls out Coke with the taste challenge, Coke ignores it. Pepsi keeps calling out Coke. Coke responds to the taste challenge, and Pepsi gets instant recognition all over the place. Coke subsequently loses a huge chunk of the market.

  10. I think what’s fundamentally wrong with what Microsoft is doing, and what makes these advertising campaigns not work, is that they aren’t a hardware vendor.

    The reason Apple’s “I’m A Mac” advertisments work so well, in addition to actually being well done, is that Apple is able to define their product both throught he software you use,and the hardware you buy. If you get a Mac, you know it because your computer looks different than people who own PCs.

    Microsoft is trying to do the same, except they don’t have the same kind of support. I can install Windows on my Mac (and I, along with a lot of other peope probably have), so what’s the advantage to buying a PC? Instead of trying to come back to Apple’s ads, Microsoft should just try to advertise based on the features of their operating system. Windows does have a lot of good qualities (It’s not as good as OS X, but it’s far from a “bad” operating system). If they were going to rip a page out of Apple’s playbook, why not advertise for things like managing your personal life through their photo program, movie maker, Windows Media Player, etc. Sure, having put my hands on iMovie and iPhoto, they’re not nearly as good, but still, try and sell your product based on what it has to offer.

    As long as Microsoft keeps trying this approach, they’re going to keep running into the problem that they’re trying to brand an entire platform, which will not happen because there’s other very, very big names in the PC industry (Dell, Compaq, HP, etc.). Microsoft has to brand the product, not the platform.

  11. I love Apple products. I’m typing this on my macbook.

    But these adds are brilliant. Uplifting and funny. And they reinforce the brand very well.

    At the end of the day it really doesn’t matter whether anyone makes good ads or bad ads – it’s the product that counts. PCs are very good at what they do but Macs are a bit better.

  12. “Where Microsoft is so painfully failing is that they don’t have a product worth selling. They can thrown money at branding campaigns” is absolutely right. I look at those people and I ask, “why do they use PC?” The answer is usually because most people do and it is cheaper. Are they satisfied? The answer is usually an unchallenged “NO!”

    MacRat says it all, “I’m a PC and I run XP”!

    Vista converted me to MAC effectively, and Microsoft did that without advertising!

  13. Microsoft is going down!!! DOWN DOWN DOWN DOWN!!!!!!!
    HA HA HA

    You know this will just raise people’s attention to the “fight” between this 2 companies. People who never thought to even try the mac will go “hmm what’s this all about? Got to try out this mac thing one of these days.”

  14. The ads are fantastic but, yes, fundamentally misleading (as all ads aim to be I guess). What all those nice people should be saying is: “I am a human being with work to do – and the solution I have right now is using Microsoft products. I don’t really know what else there is out there and although at times what I use might not do just what I need it to do it’s not a deal-breaker because I don’t have the time, wish or energy to look for alternatives. I just need to get my job done.” So the real message should be: “We use PC but we are not PCs” – Most Mac users don’t just use Macs they ARE Mac’s – it’s different.

  15. I havnt read any of the comments so that it wouldnt influence my answer but i was quite impressed with these ads. Microsoft are biting back at Apple at what was a good, but affectively childish pc, mac campaign. How often do you actually hear about companies fighting eachother and actually naming the bad things in their competitors in a tv add… Never, apart from a recent Tesco and Asda advert (the only one i can think of)

    This microsoft add is ofcourse no where near enough. The mac adds actually have legitimate reasons for switching and why its better. Microsoft need to do that same in a different way.

    P.S-im actually a mac also im just not biased about all this

  16. I actually like the ads. Yes, they may have banked on the existing ad campaigns by Apple but i believe that’s an advertising/marketing strategy.

    And i apologise, i dont think MS is a “blah” company. My first computer was a PC and i learned to appreciate the technology because of that; without the PC giving me a lead on how amazing computers are then i wouldn’t have come to love my Mac.

    I give credit to the PC (MS) for opening my mind that great things are possible and to Apple for achieving them. I give credit to both companies as i use both their products in my everyday life. They are just tools to me, they’re not suppose to become the “benchmark” of my pride as a person.

    I do believe, though, that PC’s have, generally, a “product” problem and i believe as well that they have to focus on this more seriously. BUT having a campaign that could strengthen the MS brand is would never hurt.

  17. I actually disagree, I think it’s a huge step in the right direction for Microsoft. Apple’s been making a big thing about being hipper, “funner,” easier to use, etc… Much of which I would say is true. Apple’s been doing a lot of their marketing from the standpoint of the little guy against the big corporation, and it’s definitely been working. However, with this campaign Microsoft is showing that all sorts of people–not just stiff guys in suits or college students (though they’re in there, too) use their products on a daily basis. They’re making it quite obvious that “the masses” *are* actually using their product–and successfully.

    And yes, I’m an ex-PC user converted to the Mac world who’d never dream of going back. So this isn’t coming from any sort of Microsoft loyalty, I just find it to be a great ad campaign on their part.