The whole ad industry has gotten its panties in a twist over the $300 million Crispin Porter + Bogusky Microsoft ad campaign. There has been a lot of discussion, a lot of Monday morning quarterbacking, and a lot of incorrect assumptions. I want to go over the facts of the matter here, but I'll save it for next week. For now, let's just go over the latest iteration, ImaPC.LifeWithoutWall.com, a supposedly user-generated site with "I'm a PC" testimonials. My initial thought here is that if MS wants to combat the John Hodgman-as-PC image, it shouldn't try to drown out Hodgman/Apple with a chorus of nobodies but instead create a strong character of its own. I like Pharrel Williams, but he just doesn't cut it here...and what was that philosophical tangent about the future of technology all about? Where does that celebrity confidence to talk about complicated issues they know little about inarticulately come from?
The Seinfeld ads for Microsoft were unbearably counterproductive, and the relief at Jerry’s absence in what MS execs are calling "phase 2" has been palpable throughout the ad world. We were all so pleased to say goodbye to the Jerry & Bill Show that I fear it has caused us to be far too welcoming to the "I'm a PC" ads that have followed.
Apple continues its highly successful Mac vs. PC commercial spots with three new pieces on the themes of the "glitchy" Microsoft Vista and on-campus notebook computer sales. These catchy ads—with their ambiguously facial-haired Mac guy and their unambiguous PC dork—have spawned hundreds of YouTube imitators with views adding up to tens of millions, at least. Practically everyone has seen the ads and knows now, through the magic of character and narrative, that Mac is cooler than PC. But has this campaign helped move the needle?