Do Apple’s new ‘Get a Mac’ ads generate animosity among the uninitiated?

“Apple has launched its latest marketing campaign aimed at converting PC users into Mac users. The six 30-second TV ads feature two actors assuming the role of a PC and a Mac and discussing their respective merits,” Seb Janacek writes for “It’s clear the ‘Get a Mac’ campaign is the natural successor to the Switch campaign; the audience and goal is identical – converting the average home PC user into a Mac user. The pitch is also the same: PCs cause you no end of problems; get a Mac and watch those problems vanish.”

“The format of the Get a Mac ads is sleek and effective, and uses dialogue between the two actors to highlight the superiority of the Mac over the PC. The Mac is a young chap in jeans, a hooded top and sporting designer stubble. Meanwhile, the PC is a spectacled, middle-aged, suited business man – easily ruffled and technologically clueless,” Janacek writes. “The first two ads are the most interesting. In ‘Virus’, the snuffling, sneezing PC explains that he’s caught a ‘doozy’ of a virus, one of the 114,000 that exist for the PC platform and tells the Mac to stand well back. Not to worry, says the Mac, he doesn’t get viruses. Surprised and still sneezing, the PC then crashes and falls over. The second ad, ‘Restarting’, features the PC freezing a number of times in 30 seconds and having to restart and begin his intro again. The Mac explains that he doesn’t need to restart at which point the PC freezes again and the Mac heads off to get IT. A number of ads refer to both computers being able to run Microsoft Office, to iPods and to Apple’s iLife suite of lifestyle apps for video, music and photos.”

Janacek writes, “Despite the sleekness of the ads there are a few worrying elements… the biggest problem with the ads lies with the very thing that makes them so effective: the simple characterisation of the two platforms. This dichotomy panders to the old stereotypes about Macs and PCs: that the former is cool, unflappable and savvy, while the latter is unfashionable, bloated and unstable. Furthermore, by characterising PC users as middle-aged, suited buffoons and Mac users as laid-back designer-types, the company runs the risk of alienating and insulting the very audience it’s trying to convert to its premium product range… The Get a Mac ads are an improvement on the Switch ads yet they don’t overcome the main criticism – that Macs are too cool for ‘the rest of us’. Apple must now hope they don’t generate animosity in the virus writing community – or, more importantly, among the campaign’s target audience: the uninitiated.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Perhaps Apple’s target audience isn’t older users who are stuck in their ways, but younger, more open-minded consumers? Who’s more likely to be able to learn new things? Which type of user will actually be able to quickly (or ever) grasp the fact that when you close the window, you’re not quitting the application?* Who will buy more computers over the course of their lifetime? Apple isn’t targeting lost causes like IT geeks or middle-age accountants. This is about the future, not the past. The “Get a Mac” ads work in our opinion, because they don’t belittle the Windows PC (and Windows PC user) too much and, when they do tout superiority, they do it with humor – unlike the “Intel” ad which we thought did humorlessly alienate the uninitiated a bit too much.

* “In most cases, applications that are not document-based should quit when the main window is closed. For Example, System Preferences quits if the user closes the window. If an application continues to perform some function when the main window is closed, however, it may be appropriate to leave it running when the main window is closed. For example, iTunes continues to play when the user closes the main window.” – Apple Human Interface Guidelines, Window Behavior

[UPDATE: 2:45pm EDT: Added Apple HIG note and link.]

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Related articles:
Why Apple’s new ‘Get a Mac’ campaign will fail – May 04, 2006
Apple’s ‘Get a Mac’ campaign seizes the moment as Microsoft suffers Windows Vista setbacks – May 04, 2006
iTWire’s Beer: Apple’s new ‘get a Mac’ campaign misses, preaches to converted – May 04, 2006
IDC researcher: iMac, MacBook Pro ‘nice,’ but Apple will have to innovate more or they’ll disappear – January 11, 2006 (Apple’s new Intel ad fails once more)


  1. MDN: Who’s more likely to be able to grasp that when you close the window, you’re not quitting the application?

    Unless, of course, you are. Apple is mostly consistent about this, but a lot of Mac apps aren’t.

    Have I mentioned that the intelliText is doubly annoying when you’re trying to select/copy text?

  2. Or perhpas the ads will reach to those middle aged guys in Mid Life Crisis…….and they go out and buy a Porsche….uhummm Mac.

    this ad is not for the middle age generation. It is for the younger generation which is smarter.

  3. After airing for a week now, the most amazing thing about these ads is that they promote Mac and trash PC just as Apple is accelerating its pace of abandoning the very thing that makes Mac the superior system.

    As shipping dates for the giant 17″ Intel powerbook beat the schedule, and as we await the Intel iBook announcement tomorrow – all with the ability to run Windows and all the infections and all the problems that has made PC the nightmare it is – we have Apple boldly lying about the future.

    Who is falling for this? Never mind, I’ll answer that. Apparently, almost everyone.

    What’s wrong with you guys? If you all go out and buy these Intel machines, you are playing into the hands of the strategy to destroy the Mac guy in these ads. Once the onslaught of PC viruses infects all the new Macs, there will be no reason for their existence. Who wants to pay the highest price in the store for a machine that doesn’t work any more.

  4. What struck me was the visual appearances of the two actors.

    The PC guy looks a bit like Bill Gates, even down to the glasses, and the Mac guy looks like a young Steve Jobs.

    Its remarkable to me and I am certain its a hidden subconscious effort in casting..

  5. The “switch” ads didn’t make Macs look cool. They showed Mac users as average, unattractive, boring and neurotic people talking about being too stupid to understand Windows, all set to a mocking, galumphing soundtrack. These are way different than the Switch ads.

  6. Fine MDN but with ads like these I don’t want to hear complaints or see another article about why Apple doesn’t have a larger piece of the Enterprise biz.

  7. Unless, of course, you are. Apple is mostly consistent about this, but a lot of Mac apps aren’t.

    Such as iPhoto? When you close the iPhoto window, the whole application quits. When you close the iMovie window, iMovie stays running.

    I know many intelligent people who are Mac users and have used a Mac for some time, and still don’t grasp this concept. It’s really hard to get them used to looking for that little triangle underneath the Dock icon.

  8. Nothing that makes its way into a multi-million dollar ad produced by one of Madison Avenue’s top advertising agencies is “subconcious”. They know what they’re doing.

  9. Every article I’ve read about these adds makes the mistake that the chubby guy is a stand in for PC users whe he is actually a personification of the PC itself. I’m sure this is a comon mistake among viewers as well. Makes me wonder if Apple ever ran this past a focus group. I doubt they did.

  10. I totally agree with PC Apologist – try to explain that closing the window doesn’t quit an application… unless said application has only one main window and can serve no purpose with this window closed and you start to confuse people.
    Disk images can be very confusing to new users, as can a few other little annoyances (right clicking, storing things in home directory rather than root of drive, application icons going on the left of the dock, everything else going on the right… and even then they’re only shortcuts, etc etc)

  11. Won´t move any sales to mac at all. Shores up the base of Apple owners so they can feel good about being a Mac and in the choice of Mactel or Delltel, Apple hopes they choose the former.

  12. Johnny Pierson,

    “all with the ability to run Windows and all the infections and all the problems that has made PC the nightmare it is”

    Mac is not about running Windows. If you install it, it is at your own risk. If you choose to do so and encounter problems, YOU messed up the Mac experience, not Apple. APPLE DOES NOT SUPPORT WINDOWS. Some people just don’t get it.

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