Chicago Tribune critic doesn’t get Apple’s ‘Get a Mac’ campaign, why people choose Macs, and more

“I’m a PC,” Steve Johnson proudly and ignorantly proclaims for The Chicago Tribune. “Ignorantly” because in his article Johnson reports that he has zero Mac experience, but we’re supposed to value his opinion anyway, we guess.

Johnson doesn’t let total ignorance get in his way, “For a long time I was fine with that. My computers booted up like molasses on a modest incline and booted down like that same molasses 20 degrees colder and 10 degrees more horizontal. But the software kept ‘working’ from one system to the next, and I knew the rules. But then Apple started that never-ending ad campaign. It employed comic author John Hodgman and a foil to convince me that PC users are doughy glasses-wearers who look like comic author John Hodgman, while Mac users possess long hair that manages to look both clean and kempt.”

MacDailyNews Take: For two and a half years, over 50 ads have been aired by Apple in their “Get a Mac” campaign and Steve Johnson, Chicago Tribune Internet critic, hasn’t yet figured out that John Hodgman is playing the “PC.” He’s not a “PC user,” Steve. He’s the PC itself. A Windows PC, to be precise. To most people, the “Hello, I’m a Mac” and the “I’m a PC” lines delivered by the actors were dead giveaways. How are we supposed to value Johnson’s opinion when he can’t even grasp the simplest, most basic, most obvious, most central concept of the campaign?

Undeterred, Johnson stumbles on blindly, “I started to doubt my innermost self, which, after all, is only a manifestation of the technology I choose. Maybe if I spend $1,000 to get a machine that does less than my current one, but is all white, I thought, I will be able to wear a different hairstyle and stop tucking in my shirt.”

MacDailyNews Take: Yup, that’s the reason why 30 million people use Macs, Steve. Good guess, genius. Steve Johnson, who’s never used a Mac, still knows everything there is to know about Macs. After all, he is a critic.

Johnson flails onward, “But because I am fundamentally cheap, I chose to live with this doubt. It’s the kind of wishy-washy thing those of us with imperfect eyesight do. We also wear short-sleeved button-down shirts and get repeatedly verbally bested by those who own less ubiquitous computer hardware.”

MacDailyNews Take: Yes, Steve, you do. And not just verbally, but in electronic print, too. Only Apple Macs can run the world’s largest software library. Therefore, they do much, much more than any PC. Because, Steve, Macs are not only Macs, but they can slum it as Windows PCs, too. But, hey, don’t let us stop you with the facts. Please continue making a complete idiot of yourself. It amuses us.

Johnson complies, “I am a PC. And that’s OK. Maybe I don’t love it quite as much as these people, but it’s fine. Now Apple is firing back with new ads that make fun of Microsoft for spending so much money on its ads. It’s a tough point to score in what are, after all, the latest in a long line of paid advertisements.”

MacDailyNews Take: Unsurprisingly, as it’s from a guy who can’t even figure out the basic premise of Apple’s “Get a Mac” commercials, Steve gets it wrong again. Stevie, Apple is criticizing Microsoft for spending money on ads to promote Vista instead of first fixing their ill-conceived and even worse-received operating system. Microsoft must think their customers are really stupid. And, obviously, some are.

Johnson proceeds blissfully, “And Apple’s tone is beginning to sound a little haughty, its sneer to look a little more detectable. I’m not sure which people you win over by telling them they’re sheep and idiots.”

MacDailyNews Take: Stevie, until you actually try a Mac — at which time even you will experience a brilliant, forehead-smacking flash of insight — you are a sheep and an idiot. Most Mac users have been stuck with a Windows PC one time or another at school and/or work. Most PC users haven’t really tried a Mac. This is self-evident because if they had really tried a Mac they’d be Mac users like the rest of us. Mac users have made conscious technology choice and are therefore better informed.

Stevie plods on to his conclusion, “And guess what? Hodgman’s got a new book out, ‘More Information Than You Require.’ It sounded really funny when he was on ‘The Daily Show’ promoting it the other night. I looked at him and thought, He’s a PC too (at least a little bit). Cool. Or, if not ‘cool,’ then, ‘OK.'”

MacDailyNews Take: We almost can’t bring ourselves to do it. It’s almost like making fun of the retarded… Oh, okay. Please see this related article: ‘I’m a PC’ guy John Hodgman really an Apple Mac user (September 25, 2006). Because, Stevie, he tried them both and, like the rest of us, the obvious answer is to choose the Mac. Because it’s better, Stevie. Vastly better. So, next time – if there is a next time (after all, newspapers aren’t doing so well lately… wonder why) — write from experience, Stevie, not pure ignorance. That’s what real “Internet critics” do.

Full article – Think Before You Click™, you’ve seen everything of interest anyway – here.



  1. My take is that Mr. Johnson is on the take, so to speak. Microsoft’s ads are deliberately trying to confuse the message of Apple’s ads, and Mr. Johnson here is attempting to further spread this idea that the “I’m a PC” line refers to the users themselves, and not (as is more obviously the case) a personification of an actual Windows PC.

    The whole way it’s written just smells like astroturf to me – the faux-everyman style of writing he aims for a bit too earnestly, along with a touch of LiveJournal-like introspection thrown in for good measure. But it hews far too closely to Microsoft’s latest ad campaign message to be believable as a genuinely independent viewpoint.

    So rather than denigrate Mr. Johnson for his apparent ignorance, I assume instead that he’s smart enough to know exactly what he’s doing – attempting to keep the masses deceived while making some good money on the side form the folks at Redmond.

  2. If this guy writes about technology, he should be ashamed of his lack of knowledge of computer technology, especially the Mac.
    I emailed him suggesting that he visit an Apple Store near him to get an education about the Mac. Perhaps he’ll understand the Mac ads better when he sees them thru a more educated pair of eyes.
    Then again …. maybe not.

  3. I think we should start a “Stop the FUD — Buy a Critic a Mac” fund. When some non-knowing critic who has never used a Mac whines about the cost and then trys to compare the Mac to the PC, the fund would buy them a desktop or laptop Mac. The fund would then ceremonially present the computer to the critic and follow up with the critic in a specified amount of time to get a reaction. If they don’t like the Mac, they have to give it back and it would be donated to a school.

    Here is my $10 to be the first contribution in the fund.

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