Microsoft airs its ‘I’m a PC’ ads (with video)

By SteveJack

Microsoft began the next phase of their $300 million Windows Vista resuscitation campaign with three new TV ads on Thursday night.

Microsoft’s first ad begins with a poor imitation of John Hodgman, who plays the “PC” in Apple’s “Get a Mac” ads. This is actually quite appropriate for a company whose main product, Windows, and whose biggest current failure, Zune, are themselves poor imitations of Apple creations.

Microsoft’s fake Hodgman claims, “Hello, I’m a PC, and I’ve been made into a stereotype.” Somehow, Microsoft seems to have failed to notice that they are reinforcing said claimed sterotype by using an imitation Hodgman to headline their commercials. Sometimes, the cluelessness astounds.

The ad then segues into a montage of many different people from many walks of life who each claim, “I’m a PC,” too. Microsoft seems confused about what they’re selling: they are supposed to be selling “Windows,” not “PCs.” Microsoft doesn’t even make PCs. HP makes “PCs,” though. And HP, like Microsoft, is currently busy trying to hide Windows, too, by applying lipstick to the Vista pig while exploring the possibility of creating their own OS without Microsoft.

At the end of the ad, finally, Microsoft gets around to showing the Windows logo with the hypocritical and insanely stupid tag line text, “Windows. Life Without Walls.” Hypocritical, because Microsoft’s entire business is based on trapping people within Windows to the point where they come to believe that they cannot ever hope to escape. (Windows users: You really can escape and it’s way easier than you might think.) Insanely stupid, because, if you’re living a “Life Without Walls,” then you obviously have no need for Windows. Duh. Great ad agency you have there, Microsoft. Who the hell gave final approval for that tag line? Oh, yeah, Ballmer. It all makes sense now.

Shameless mug plug: In a world without fences and walls, who needs Gates and Windows? (Get one today – it’s an especially great gift for IT guys!)

Here’s Microsoft’s first ad:

Deepak Chopra: “I’m a PC and a human being. Not a human doing. Not a human thinking. A human being.” Presumably, he just sits on the couch all day staring at a blank wall while eating chips. Paint chips. Lead-based. Listen, we already know that you’re not thinking Deepak, you fraud, or you’d be using a Mac. It’s typical that vapid Hollywood types – and Microsoft – would eat up that sort of meaningless tripe.

Microsoft’s other two ads also do their damnedest to show a bunch of people claiming to be personal computers, too:

I’m a PC, but I used a Mac to make these fruitless commercials.” (“Fruitless,” get it?)

Anyway, if Microsoft’s goal was to convince people that it’s okay to use PCs, then the ads are almost passable. I say “almost” because the overriding message highlighted right upfront by fake Hodgman is that Microsoft is yet again weakly copying Apple and also because there’s a very real risk that the average viewer might end up wondering, “Hey, if Microsoft’s so worked up about responding to Apple’s Mac ads, then maybe I should stop into my neighborhood Apple Store to see what all the fuss is about before I buy my next PC?” Or maybe, “Why don’t they mention that Windows Vista I keep hearing bad things about?” Or even, “Boy, Microsoft sure seems confused.”

That Microsoft runs the very real risk of driving even more people to Macs obliterates their muddled message that “a ton of people all made the very same mistake, but since we all don’t know any better, it’s okay to smile blissfully and proclaim our use of inferior personal computers,” uh, I mean, “it’s ok to be a PC even though Apple makes fun of us and we’ve never even touched a Mac so we have no earthly idea what we’re missing.” Uh, well, you know what I’m saying. Microsoft’s real goal is simply to keep the sheep in the pen.

So far, Microsoft’s $300 million ad campaign has, like a Windows PC, a lot of disparate parts that don’t really work very well – or at all – together. None of what I’ve seen so far seems to have resulted in the sale of a single copy of Windows Vista, but Microsoft’s floundering about may well have helped Apple sell even more new Macs.

And now, to cleanse the palate, here’s a real image ad:

Life’s too short. Get a Mac.

SteveJack is a long-time Macintosh user, web designer, multimedia producer and a regular contributor to the MacDailyNews Opinion section.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers too numerous to mention for the heads up.]

200 Comments

  1. In the Apple ads, isn’t one to assume that Apple is talking about the computers, and not the people who use them? Has anyone looked at (or used) a Mac, then compared it to a PC?

    Apple should do an ad that uses a talking MacBook Pro, vs. a talking ThinkPad. Ya know, they could animate them to open and close the lids (displays) like the notebook is a mouth, and say “I’m a Mac, and I’m a PC”. That ought to clear up the misconception.

    Are people that insecure?

  2. Apparently Macintosh they are.

    I will say this, they have done a good job of at least attempting to create some interest, not quite sure what it will do for them – reassure their existing customer base a bit and maybe staunch the bleeding a little bit.

    A guy on Youtube already added the classic BSOD near the end of the commercial followed by the Vista logo. Been done many times I know, but it’s still funny!

  3. I’m surprised at how effective these ads are.
    I know Microsoft is a company built on theft and crap.
    I wouldn’t buy a Microsoft product if Bill Gates stayed at my house and ate my scalloped potatoes.
    But I have to admit, these ads may do the only thing Microsoft could have hoped for: Create a feeling of okayness about using Windows.
    Even though Microsoft is absolute garbage, I have a new appreciation for Crispin Porter + Bogusky.

  4. looking at this objectively (as opposed to having my mac blinders on), i would say these are very good commercials and will be successful for Microsoft.

    i don’t know what the impact will be for Mac or marketshare. but it should slow down the negative tide Microsoft has been having lately.

    However, these commercials still do not fix the crap that is Vista, or prevent Microsoft from churning out any more crap out of Redmont.

  5. Unfortunately the catch phrase will just remind the audience what the other guy is – and reinforce the Mac message.

    I’m a PC and have to copy because I can”t innovate on my own.

  6. Yes, Macintosh, but there’s been a prevailing wisdom that Hodgman and Long are meant to embody the users rather than the machines. I see it often as an anti-Apple talking point around the blogosphere, “Why does Apple make fun of PC users?” At the same time I’ve explained to numerous people who were honestly confused both online and offline that it wasn’t the case.

    Microsoft took advantage of that angle. No telling how many people there are across the country who don’t understand the “Get a Mac” ads, but that’s who Microsoft is selling this to.

  7. Only watched the first one. While listening to all those people that claim that they are PC’s I realise that it sounds more like “I am pissy” or “I am PC (ie politicly correct)”

    Also the way they’ve edited the parts together lol: “Im a pc and this is where I work”(guy in blue T-shirt in a serverroom) followed by “and these are my employees”(cows).

    ie: Pc-users are mindless drones that like being stucked in damp window(s)less rooms in the basement…

    Could analyze this to death 😀 – thats semiotics for u

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