Apple uses new ad campaign to bash Microsoft marketing

Apple Inc. continued to bash Microsoft Corp.’s $300 million Windows advertising campaign today with another television ad that knocked its rival’s renewed Vista marketing effort.


Apple’s new “bake sale” commercial.

Like the two advertisements Apple debuted last week, the newest – dubbed “Bake Sale” – pointedly refers to Microsoft’s makeover. Ads in Apple’s long-running “Get a Mac” campaign typically diss Vista directly by focusing on a single perceived problem in the operating system.

In the new ad, the character of “PC,” played by humorist John Hodgman, says he is holding a bake sale because “the marketing guys decided to run a big, expensive ad campaign rather than use that money to fix Vista.”

When “Mac,” played by actor Justin Long, asks PC why he has been forced to raise money by selling pies and cupcakes, PC replies: “Since my problems don’t seem to be a priority for them, I’m taking matters into my own hands … a bake sale.”

Mac then buys a cupcake, and at PC’s urging, takes a bite after asking its price. “[That will be] $10 million,” says PC. “Now you have to pay me because you had a bite.”

Microsoft launched its Windows campaign more than a month ago with ads featuring comedian Jerry Seinfeld and former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates, then followed them with several new spots on the theme “Windows. Life without walls.”

In some of those advertisements, a real Microsoft engineer who resembles Hodgman introduces himself with the line: “Hello, I’m a PC, and I’ve been made into a stereotype.”

Microsoft’s ad agency, Crispin Porter + Bogusky, used Macs to produce some of the promotional material for the campaign, examinations of the metadata of several images showed last month.


Apple’s “bean counter” commercial.

According to Gartner Inc., Macs accounted for nearly 10% of all U.S. computer sales in the quarter that ended Sept. 30. Microsoft’s Windows operating system, meanwhile, continues to command the bulk the operating system market. In September, Windows had a 90.3% share of that market, according to data from Net Applications Inc.

Vista accounted for about one-fifth of the overall Windows market, Net Applications reported.

The direct response to Microsoft’s ads is a departure from Apple’s usual tactics during its two-years-and-counting TV campaign, which has been to mock problems in the Vista operating system itself.

While reaction to the ads on YouTube and elsewhere is mixed-to-positive, many tech bloggers feel that the latest ads have brought the back-and-forth sniping between the two companies to a new, undesirable level of inside baseball.

One Apple ad, entitled “Bean Counter,” “appears to assume that you care about Micorosft advertising budgets, and the second one [entitled ‘The V Word’] doesn’t make much sense at all unless you’ve noticed the downplaying of Vista in recent Microsoft ads,” wrote former PC World editor Harry McCracken. “Both bash Vista without saying anything positive about the Mac, and they bash it for its promotion as much as for the product that’s being promoted.”

“It’s getting dirty out there folks — we haven’t seen a smear campaign like this since, well, Obama and McCain,” Zach Epstein wrote in his “Boy Genius Report” blog.

“The bottom line is that the whole thing is getting old. Sure, fanboys will still snicker at Justin Long and all of his snappy zingers, but you don’t need to sell fanboys now, do you Apple? …It might be best to get rolling with a new campaign before Justin Long becomes the next Aflac duck or Geico gecko — you know, so hated that people actually vow never to give those companies a single dollar as a result.”


Apple’s “pizza box” commercial.

Microsoft declined to comment on Apple’s latest ads.

When Microsoft released its first “I’m a PC” ad last month after its controversial Jerry Seinfeld-Bill Gates “teaser” ads, it made a reference to Apple’s “I’m a Mac…” television campaign by including a look-alike to the Apple ads’ frumpy “PC” character who said, “Hello, I’m a PC, and I’ve been made into a stereotype.”

Microsoft otherwise took the high road, resisting the temptation to directly attack its smaller tormentor in its ad.

“It’s Marketing 101. It clearly makes sense for the No. 2 guy to pick a fight with the No. 1 guy,” Eric Hollreiser, director of corporate communications for Microsoft, told Computerworld last month. “There were some pervasive misperceptions that we needed to address. It’s unmistakable that we will focus on them. But we will quickly pivot to the positive values of Windows.”

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