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Microsoft’s New Marketing Tactic: Let People Know That You Are “The PC Guy”

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Microsoft, what are you thinking? Seriously.

Crispin Porter, the agency behind Microsoft’s seemingly failed ad campaign (and if not “failed”, then certainly “confusing”), has been kept on board for “phase two” of Microsoft’s $300 million ad campaign. The angle they are taking for phase two is a direct response to Apple’s successful Get A Mac ad campaign that features John Hodgman as “PC Guy”. In fact, the ad even has a lookalike.

Reportedly, the ads will feature real-life Windows users who proclaim their love for Windows-running computers after the Microsoft “PC Guy” states “Hello, I’m a PC, and I’ve been made into a stereotype.”

On top of that, starting this evening, users can go to and upload videos and photos of themselves proclaiming the fact that they, too, are PC’s. Seems Microsoft has already forgotten that Apple has created the persona that “PC Guy” isn’t who users should want to be.

Honestly, this just feels childish. Apple, being the one with less market share, launched their Get A Mac campaign to convince people to switch. Microsoft, instead of coming up with an original ad that actually touts some reasons people would want to stick with Windows, can only come up with an ad campaign that effectively says “No fair!”

Microsoft is just trying too hard. While Apple’s ads do indeed take jabs at Microsoft, they also clearly and concisely give you reasons you’d want to get a Mac. If there’s anything Microsoft should take out of Apple’s playbook, it’s the value of quick, simple, and clear communication. Quit making your message overly complex and unoriginal and just tell people the answer to the ominous “Why?”.

Why on earth Seinfeld is getting the axe and not Crispin Porter is beyond me.

17 Responses to “Microsoft’s New Marketing Tactic: Let People Know That You Are “The PC Guy””

  1. dmangstar564


    keep in mind, Program shortcuts are not the same as OS shortcuts…

    the mac is and has always been lacking in OS shortcuts that windows has.

    There is no shortcut to pull up a run dialogue, there is not shortcut to minimize all windows, there is no short cut to access the “dock”

    now yes…the expose solves alot of these issues, but it is more keypresses then needed to accomplish the same thing in windows.

    Also the keyboard command to access the menus w/o shortcut is weird and clunky (control-f2 vs just pressing alt) and some dialouge boxes require you to use the mouse and won’t accept a keyboard at all.

    IMO you should be able to use a OS quickly and fully out of the box without a mouse…this is totally possible windows with little or no training. However the mac it is nearly impossible to do without 3rd party software.

  2. Dan, how long did you actually “try” using Mac for? OS X has quite a few keyboard shortcuts, at least as many as Windows ifnot more. Obviously you should use whatever you’re comfortable with, but let’s not pretend that OS X is deficient because you don’t prefer it.

  3. I tried mac, and I went back. I hated the slow clunky interface that i couldn’t use half the keyboard shortcuts i have for windows for. I installed quicksliver, and was like, hey! i can do this with the run command, but twice as fast. As they say people who can use windows love it, everyone else, enjoy having to use your MOUSE for everything (on my PC my hands rarely leave the keyboard).

    when i want to use UNIX i pull out an only 486 (because thats all you Need to run it) and use that.

    keyboard FTW, screw mac and it’s mouse dependency.

  4. Everyone need a PC. And we can live without it. All ATM machines in this world use windows. Without windows, we cant get our money. LOL. I have mac for school work, and a pc for games.

  5. Sheggria wrote: “… Apple’s marketers were careful to indicate that the character is indeed the computer, not the user.”

    I agree! I never interpreted the PC Guy as nothing other than portraying a PC. I never looked at it as referring to the user.

    Nevertheless, as someone who sold PC’s (as well as the first Mac when they came out) and owned PCs for 20 years, I’ve been a happy Mac user for the past five years and have never looked back.

  6. 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”

  7. No one has commented on the Bill Gates/Jerry Seinfeld ads. I simply don’t get these at all. Not funny, nothing about the operating system. Are these ads supposed to let us feel more comfortable with Gates as being a real guy? No, this approach doesn’t do anything for me at all.

    I say they should show users who are frustrated over some weakness the Mac has compared to PC’s, for instance, “this printer works with Windows! Do I really have to buy a whole new printer just to get my Mac to print?” Or “What, you mean my business software isn’t available for the Mac? How can THAT be?”

  8. ‘eh, not the worst idea in the world.

    Somewhat related note: I “made the switch” October 2007. Before then, I HATED the “I’m a Mac / I’m a PC” commercials. I thought Justin Long came off as a smarmy, annoying prick.

    Fast forward to today – the commercials are dead on.

  9. Its quite clear to me that the “Get A Mac” ads are centered around the computers’ persona, not the users. From the very beginning its always been that way. (ie. The PC gets the virus, not the user) I think thats why its been so successful – everyone can relate to the frustrations of the PC crashing or slowing down, or just not being fully cooperative. It works, because almost everyone has experienced Windows, hence making some start to think why not try a mac?
    That said, it would be interesting to see the responses come from Windows’ user contributions. Probably another farce like the Mojave presentation…. lets see.

  10. I completely understand how the Apple campaign seems to be calling PC users dorky and out of touch, and the inference is definitely there. But the power that the Apple ads have to make most people smile is that Hodgman’s character declares, “Hi. I’m a PC.” He doesn’t say, “Hi. I’m a PC user.”

    I get it, I get it. It implies that PC users are like this. But there’s power in the language actually used, and Apple’s marketers were careful to indicate that the character is indeed the computer, not the user.

    In this is the appeal: It’s not that PC users are dorky or out of touch (but anyone’s free to make that connection), it’s that they’re saying the Windows OS is substandard and that’s frustrating. The commercials work and have unbelievable longevity because they’re successfully casting the PC/Windows as substandard but while doing it playfully.

  11. This coming from a former PC user: This actually seems brilliant.

    By allowing Windows users to upload videos to use in the campaign explaining why they use Windows, they ARE giving reasons to use Windows, and from people who are already using it. This will potentially make the unsure Windows users who were considering quitting think, “Hmm, well these users seem satisfied, maybe it’s not so bad,” while at the same time making Apple look childish for their portrayal of PC users as geeky and out of touch.

    Which type of campaign do you think longtime Windows users would respond to more: one that shows regular people like them using Windows and liking it, or the other guy, who makes fun of them and says switch if you want to be cool?

    Again, I’m a former Windows user, now a happy Mac user, but I wouldn’t count this campaign out. Look at any good political campaign. Painting the other guy as elitist and turning their own campaign against them can make quite a difference.

  12. I’m not sure if it’s quite as dumb as all that. While I think the Apple ads are pretty successful, I think if you ask people which of the two characters they like better, it would be Hodgman’s PC. Hodgman is a funny guy with dork charisma, whereas Justin Long is kind of too cool for school. Admittedly, Hodgman’s PC is a lovable loser, but this could be a clever way of turning the campaign on its head for those who identify with that.