I am a PC

At first when I heard about the Microsoft “I am a PC” ads, my first
instinct was that the world’s biggest computer company should not feel the need
to respond to Apple’s “I’m a Mac and I’m a PC” ads which had aired
more than six months ago. It signified that not only that they gave a damn but
also they were likely to loose control of the debate.

After seeing the hundreth Apple ad mimicking and stereotyping the Microsoft user, I
started to see Apple as the bully of the playground. Poking fun at the perceived
‘not so cool’ Microsoft user was like the ‘IT’ girl in the playground with the
cooler nike trainers picking on others.

Microsoft approached me to be in the I
am a PC.
I wanted to do it not only to get the Lady Geek brand out there but more
importantly, I am tired of the unconditional and undeserving love people have
for the Apple brand. The original reason for the Apple brand being so desired,
was clearly a great product but also a position of being the underdog and a
brand for the non conformist.

With Apple’s growth rate surpassing Microsoft, has Apple become the brand for the
lazy conformist? The person who can’t think past the ‘mac tax’ and see the new
sexier brands like asus and acer chomping at their heels? Is Apple’s behaviour
precisely the behaviour of that which they criticized Microsoft? Have the
tables turned? And ultimately, do the I am PC ads successfully connect women with Microsoft?
showed some Lady Geeks the ads and they got an encouraging response.

With comments from ‘I love the stories behind the technology’ to ‘it made me reappraise the role of technology in my life.’ If its objective is to build the brand ethos
first and foremost, its clearly successful. It has managed to move away from
the technology and product specs and talk about what technology means to women
and what they care about. It achieves Malcolm Gladwell’s fundamental question
of what can Microsoft mean to people over and above being a software developer.

But if
its aim was to get people to reappraise Vista, then there is a fundamental
problem to solve. I asked my female colleagues at work what they knew about
Microsoft Vista. All are tech literate, bright and articulate 20 and 30
somethings. I got answers ranging from ‘is it a credit card?’ to ‘something on
my computer but I am not sure what.’ The majority of women don’t know or care
what an operating system is, and could not identify Microsoft’s flagship
product as an example of an operating system.

Meanwhile
Apple seem to have no difficulty communicating the value of OSX – it seems as
if every insignificant widget is trumpeted as if it were the greatest
development in computing since the invention of the mouse. Apple are fortunate
to have fans who create a reality-distortion field through which apple’s
products appear magical – and under the same lens Microsoft’s products are by
definition the exact opposite.

Lovers
generally tend to overlook the faults in the object of their affection and
Apple have been very good at building that kind of loyalty beyond reason
amongst their audience. Microsoft have never invested in building any kind of
emotional connection with their audience – which is what makes their new
campaign such a significant departure from their normal product-focused, conservative
advertising.

With the imminent launch of Windows 7, Microsoft claim to have fixed the
technical issues that disappointed so many Vista users – now the goal should be
to fix the marketing so that women care about this thing that Microsoft have
made, and understand how it enhances their life.

  • http://advertisingmatters.wordpress.com Carl Martin

    Anyone else think that it just sounds like everyone is saying ‘I am pissy!’ ?
    I know I am with the number of issues I am having with Vista at the moment!

  • http://ladygeek.org.uk Belinda Parmar

    who is being pissy? microsoft?

  • http://advertisingmatters.wordpress.com Carl Martin

    no no, the advertisements for ‘Im a PC’…sounds like everyone in the ad is saying ‘I am pissy!’

  • http://ladygeek.org.uk Belinda Parmar

    I disagree. I think the style and humanity of the ads are really good. it doesn’t feel like microsoft are on the defensive. Crispin managed to capture the spirit of the individual and what technology means to them.

  • jon ruffell

    As an ‘unconditional lover’ of everything Apple, I think the ” I’m a PC ” campaign is not only a great response to the Apple ads, but also a massive compliment to Apple. More importantly it recognises that Mircosoft are no longer dominant and more people are experiencing the Apple brand.

  • Rushna Waseem

    How on earth can tech literate women NOT know that Vista is an operating system?

  • http://www.phr0g.wordpress.com Amod Munga

    The ” I’m a PC ” ads are off base. $300 million dollars later and these ads (including the ones that feature Pharell Williams and that latino chick from DH) do nothing for me. Not just because of the yawning chasm between the brand-promise and the consumer experience but also because I don’t want to be associated with the crazy-eyed, purple-shirt guy…or the GatorBling chick… I want to be associated with the guys who speak fluent Japanese and get Gisele Bundchen in their ads (because they can) .

    Advice for MS: Fix the problems. And let us tell you how great you are.

  • Niall Kitching

    These ads aired in my TV region (Tyne Tees), but the Mac ads did not.
    This just makes them look confusing.
    Also, I would bet my pocket money on Belinda being a PC user. I have been using macs since 1986 and although the days of them being essential in the design & artwork world are gone, you still don’t see many PCs in a serious design studio.
    Macs have kudos that PCs will never have, see how many computers are macs in TV shows and films. Windows PCs are constantly aping mac technology and software and never quite getting it right.
    PCs will never be cool.

  • Roger OThornhill

    I agree with those who say the Microsoft PC campaign is defensive. How anyone can say they are anything but baffles me. They basically amount to a tribute to the Apple campaign. And they are not about individuality. Quite the opposite. They are about a collective and being inclusive. We learn no one’s name and everyone proclaims their identity as a PC. How is that individualistic?

  • Karen Clark

    “You can’t function without technology”. Come on woman, get real! I was brought in a council house in a one parent family with 3 other sisters. I don’t recall my Mum running around with a bluetooth headset on, moaning about how life difficult is as they slurp another latte in their local coffee shop. If the kids are screaming you are not doing something right. It’s about time these modern mothers with their giant car-sized push chairs learnt some old fashioned parenting skills.

  • Gordon Macmillan

    No one should wear blue-tooth headsets a part from Geordi La Forge from ST: TNG – and he was blind so had a fitting excuse.

    I like the I’m a PC ads too.

  • http://ladygeek.org.uk Belinda Parmar

    Thanks Karen for your parenting advice. You made me laugh. I wasn’t moaning about how difficult life is, more that technology has made my life simpler. And yes my children do scream from time to time, but i guess that makes them normal. No car sized pushchair but yes I do enjoy a latte in the local coffee shop. I’m the one sitting in the corner with baby puke on my shoulder.

  • http://blog.stodge.org salim fadhley

    “More importantly it recognises that Mircosoft are no longer dominant and more people are experiencing the Apple brand.”

    I don’t think it’s fair to call Apple the dominant technology – even if their brand culture does tend to dominate the tech field. As a Linux user I note that Linux is still the fastest growing category of OS used and is rapidly becoming the dominant technology in the server market.

    “I’m A PC” seems to be a valiant effort to stop Apple taking back the consumer marketplace which Microsoft won back from Apple during the 90’s when they too were content to ship boring-looking over-priced beige boxes.

  • raj samuel

    Am a fan of the mac ads…not simply due to being a recent Apple convert. Products are great, so intuitive and the resulting ads a great reflection. And they’re funny. I’ve yet to see a PC ad that made me laugh. And they do speak volumes about their core audience. I don’t feel they’re being a bully…Apple just stick to their guns about who they are. This is a good thing.

    There IS a slightly defensive feel to the PC ads….however, I think this new route can potentially work….they just need to continue to develop it. and stick to it. maybe this is their avenue to being a more human brand. what IBM went thru years ago. But at the moment MS seem to have shoddy products and inconsistent comms. while they fix their products….I think there’s an opp to continue to go real human or just make us laugh. And not be so split personality.

  • jon ruffell

    I never said Apple was the dominant technology – just that MS isn’t so dominant.

  • esra ilgin

    the main difference between Apple and PC lies in their codes of taste. I truely believe that taste is the core secret ingredient to Apple’s success. I don’t want to surround myself with geeky objects that have been designed and marketed by a bunch of tasteless nerds or copycats.

  • Dan Whitcombe

    I agree with Roger. The I am PC ads are defensive, though frankly, on the subject of Windows Vista, I think its ability to underperform at every level should mean Microsoft would be glad people don’t know what it is. They should be hoping to be able to offer it a quiet retirement. No fanfare. No obit. Just a ripple-less submertion into the bottomless pool of inoperative systems.

    As for Apple’s dominance, I would criticise the Mac ads in that I feel they have repositioned Mac in a rather unsympathetic way, to occupy an area of elitism. I say elitist rather than uber-cool. Which I am sure they did not intend. And its reflected in the product prices, especially if you look, as Belinda has, to the likes of Asus and Acer.

  • http://www.withus-recruit.com Andy Knell

    Given Microsoft’s hyper-protectionist business model, do we not think the strapline “World without Walls” is just a little conceited?

  • http://artofconversation.typepad.com/ kevin mclean

    The way that ‘I AM A PC’ is written in the ads made me think of just one thing ….

    … the iMAC!

    (maybe because I want one for Christmas)

  • ajbis

    What’s Microsoft trying to say? The mac idea focuses on selling the computer and OS together. When you say ‘I’m a mac’ you are saying I have the computer and OS that are built to work together. Isn’t ‘I’m a PC’ just saying ‘I bought a computer’, but fails to say who actually makes it, what quality it is or (considering you can still downgrade to xp because people often don’t like vista) even what Windows you use. It’s almost a non answer.

    Consider that I’m a mac, but I’ve also installed Vista. Does that make me a mac and a PC? Mac have sold me a high quality computer that does what I need it to. That just happens to include using vista.

  • salim fadhley

    Alan – you mean to say that Mac is a brand wheras these days “PC” refers to a generic cagory of personal computer.

    The irony is that PC was once a brand. About 20 years ago in the crazy-days of the home computer revolution IBM launched an affordable device aimed at a home-business audience. It was called the “IBM PC”.

    Shortly after that came the “PC Clones” from companies such as Compaq (now part of HP). Back in the day it was normal to describe such a compter as an “IBM PC Clone” – that clunky verbiage has been dropped.

    The odd thing is that it should be (of all companies) Microsoft who want to breathe life into the PC brand. After all, they did so much to kill the brand in the first place. It was their split with IBM and the launch of MS-Dos that enabled the clone-makers. It was their launch of Windows that drove IBM’s OS2 out of the operating system market. By the time microsot’s attack had finished nobody even knew that PC was once a fiercly defended trademark!

    :-)

  • http://ladygeek.org.uk Belinda Parmar

    Clearly there are issues with Vista, but Microsoft never gets any credit when things go right. Microsoft don’t shout about what they do and when things do go well -compared to Apple who feel the need to highlight every insignificant widget they have.

  • I CLEMENTS

    I agree. I think MS get a lot of stick for having neglected their own branding, yet there are advantages where the consumer’s concerned. No hip brand equity added in as part of the price for one. With MS you’re paying purely for product, not badge. And it’s not all that bad. If MS has displayed anything over the years it’s brand integrity – and in these austere days that goes a long way.

  • Dan Whitcombe

    What Peter and Belinda say is certainly true up to a point. You get the impression that Mac users feel blind criticism of Microsoft is simply part of the “job”. MS could come up with the perfect OS and it would still come in for criticism, while Apple remains some kind of hallowed ground. Obviously hats off to Apple for managing to create such extraordinary brand loyalty, but it does mean that we end up with a sort of Cry Wolf scenario… Apple and its fanbase will slag off MS whatever it does, so you never know when the criticism is justified and when it is just another round of MS bashing…

  • http://artofconversation.typepad.com/ kevin mclean

    I must say that the current ‘I’m a PC so don’t even think about Macs’ campaign is a LOT BETTER than previous Windows ads.

    http://artofconversation.typepad.com/art_of_conversation/2008/12/to-pc-or-not-to-pc.html

  • Adam Powell

    I don’t get the Apple hype – perhaps because I’ve never owned an Apple device – but it always seems to me that Jobs and Co have nurtured incredible brand loyalty and advocacy amongst a group of ‘style leaders’ who espouse the virtues of their product and give 100% buy-in.
    Then Jobs and Co screw these individuals, getting them all hot and excited about new devices that are released with limited initial stock at extortionately inflated prices and laugh as the Apple-ites queue around the block for days to pay a premium for a product that will be available on general release to the ‘style-followers’ in a short month or two at a significantly reduced prices.
    ‘I’m a Mac’ therefore looks to me a little bit like ‘I’m a Mug’ – happy to be robbed by Jobs and Co for the prestige of being one fo their hardcore supporters and brand advocates.
    These ‘early-adopters’ who do so much to promote Apple are actually paying for the privilege.
    Jobs is very crafty – and must be very clever – to get these individuals to keep coming back and paying him for the pleasure of supporting his marketing efforts.

  • Dan Whitcombe

    Jobs is, indeed, very crafty, as Adam has pointed out. All those people (myself included) who bought 3rd generation iPods way back in the day, only to find the bogus batteried giving out within a week of the warranty’s expiration date. Apple’s big thing (other than the style cachet) is that it’s products aren’t riddled with the sort of bugs and glitches MS products are (or so apple-ites claim), but every Apple product I’ve ever used has been just as prone to inexplicable meltdown as its PC/MS opposite number. Less a case of the apple not falling far from the tree as the Apple not failing far from the date of purchase. Hmm, that needs a little tweaking…

  • Barney Ware

    I agree with lots of this things Belinda said – I’ve never owned an Apple product and don’t feel the need to, however I do fully understand the appeal they hold for others.

    I particularly like her comments about Apple turning into the cool school yard bully and the unconditional and (arguably) undeserving love Apple customers lavish on the brand (annoys me). And the Apple “Reality distortion field” – brilliant

    She still didn’t seem to get the “I’m a pissy” comment made early on!

    I think for me this comment about MS sums it up

    “Advice for MS: Fix the problems. And let us tell you how great you are.”

    Then maybe they can start to think about cleaver emotionally engaging ad campaigns, otherwise it just doesn’t work for me.

  • Barney Ware

    I agree with lots of this things Belinda said – I’ve never owned an Apple product and don’t feel the need to, however I do fully understand the appeal they hold for others.

    I particularly like her comments about Apple turning into the cool school yard bully and the unconditional and (arguably) undeserving love Apple customers lavish on the brand (annoys me). And the Apple “Reality distortion field” – brilliant

    She still didn’t seem to get the “I’m a pissy” comment made early on!

    I think for me this comment about MS sums it up for me “Advice for MS: Fix the problems. And let us tell you how great you are.” Then maybe they can start to think about cleaver, emotionally engaging ad campaigns, otherwise it just doesn’t work for me.

  • Sarah Waite

    When I first saw the ads, I was impressed with some of the casting – the teacher in Africa, Pharrell (the epitome of understated cool), Eva L… but as the weeks go on, I’m growing tired of the truly boring, new examples.
    Amusingly, the quality of most of the digital outdoor displays is shockingly bad and pixelated. (In line with recent Windows performance?)

    I have to admit, as a Mac, the ads make me feel even more smug and glad not to belong to the PC clan.

    (Belinda: I do share your point that the Mac vs. PC ads went on far too long, to the point of RTB exhaustion.)

  • Sarah Waite

    When I first saw the ads, I was impressed with some of the casting – the teacher in Africa, Pharrell (the epitome of understated cool), Eva L… but as the weeks go on, I’m growing tired of the truly boring, new examples.
    Amusingly, the quality of most of the digital outdoor displays is shockingly bad and pixelated. (In line with recent Windows performance?)

    I have to admit, as a Mac, the ads make me feel even more smug and glad not to belong to that ‘clan’.

    (Belinda: I do share your point that the Mac vs. PC ads went on far too long, to the point of RTB exhaustion.)

  • http://ladygeek.org.uk Belinda Parmar

    Agree Microsoft do need to evolve the campaign or take the media in a different direction. The point has been made. Move on Microsoft.
    Interesting what you say about ‘clan.’ If Microsoft have achieved some kind of clan status, they will have achieved an affiliation and a belonging that before this campaign, wasn’t really there.

  • Gordon Macmillan

    Smug Mac – that’s what I can’t stand. It makes me want to hurl my dysfunctional PC laptop across the room.

    Apple is definitely a clan who are attracted to what a lot of people (in the early days at least) saw as some kind of rebel brand that pooled a community of creatives and geeks.

  • http://www.thomasbrunkard.com Thomas Brunkard

    I think the point has been missed. The PC character in the Mac ads is an personification of a MS equipped computer not a user of same. The Mac trounces the PC on every barometer except for price. Just had an awful Vista experience today. When I was on a System 7 Mac back in the day I was far more productive. Once I get re-employed a Mac will be the first pay-day purchase I’ll make.

  • http://mammon.typepad.com Matt Law

    Hi Belinda! I didn’t realise you were Famous On The Internet.]

    I also think the I’m a PC campaign works, and while it does tip the hat to Apple’s new position a little bit, on balance it does a good job on taking the wind out of their sails. The Apple PC/Mac campaign was actually slightly misjudged IMO as perhaps Apple failed to realise their new mainstream identity. It’s difficult to be that big and still be the rebel.

    With regards to campaign longevity, the ‘life without walls’ idea has legs, and will work for as long as Apple tie you into their proprietary software and file/data formats (so basically forever).

  • http://www.Seanie.info SEAN RUTTLEDGE

    Pardon me maam, but did you REALLY just say that Asus & ACER were “sexy” brands ?

  • http://www.haimediagroup.com Lisa Devaney

    I love when brands fight in public. I’m a PC but I really want to be a Mac someday.

  • Gordon Macmillan

    Lisa when you grow, it will happen.

  • http://www.oocl.it/nonconventionaladvertising/ francesco colantonio

    I agree with Amud:
    “Advice for MS: Fix the problems. And let us tell you how great you are”…and of course..in the I AM A PC ads i don’t find anything extraordinary…when i bought my first Apple, I set this password: DREAM! i now i’m still dreaming about its usability excellence…

  • http://www.fastvision.com Simone Grey

    As a long time female Mac user and ‘lady geek’ I agree with what Belinda is saying about Apple turning into the monster of a company it has always been fighting with Microsoft. There is a bit of a playground scrap going on at the moment, however with the success of the recent Apple products I see there will be only one winner. This is a shame because i’m getting a bit fed up with ‘Apple Bling’ being a teenage must have and jewelry like accessory, and rising prices that go with such a trend. Bring back old Apple.

    Simone
    UK Web Hosting

  • http://www.mediabasehq.com Adam Foster

    There is no doubt that the marketing from Apple is one of the reasons their market share has grown so much. However it is only when you switch from PC to mac that you are really aware of the benefits and simplicity of Mac products. One spokesman from Apple described PCs as clumsy and lacking class which is spot on. Whatever your line of business I can guarantee that if you switch to a Mac you will never switch back.

  • Adrian Langford

    The fact that Microsoft believes showing a few cool (albeit not in the opinion of many of the replies to the original blog) people in their ads will bring about a sea change in evaluation of their brand just shows how they – and Lady geek – has fundamentally misunderstand the nature of Apple’s success. Yes they are cool, yes they are stylish, yes they are non-conformist but these values are faithfully reflected in their products, applications and ethos. Indeed the manifestations of the Apple brand are inextricably linked, which is why it’s so powerful.

    Simply look and marvel at the way in which even trivial details (eg tiny icons on an iPhone status bar say) are finessed at a pixel level. Someone has really sweated the details here. Someone cared about elegance. Now look at the plug-ugly dialogue boxes in Windows (not just Vista – the appearance hasn’t really changed since the 80s). Case closed your honour.

  • Dr Tea

    Microsoft OS branding is awful. Have a look at their their video on how to hold a Windows 7 party. Link below.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1cX4t5-YpHQ

    However, Microsoft can be cool. Their Xbox product is excellent. It has strong brand loyalty among its users, just like Apple.
    This is what can happen when you own and build both the hardware and the OS software.

    Just like Apple.

  • Will Bates

    I think that the I’m a PC ads are great. For a start they stay in the mind. The ad clearly targets people who don’t know very much about computers, because anyone who does would know that Microsoft products are inferior to their competition. Pitching to those who don’t know very much about computers (which is likely to be a significant proportion of the population) is a cleaver way of marketing a shoddy product (in my option).

  • http://www.dontbreakthepiggy.co.uk Utility Warehouse

    I must say that the current ‘I’m a PC so don’t even think about Macs’ campaign is a LOT BETTER than previous Windows ads. Whatever next.