New Microsoft Ad: Macs are “so sexy” but…

applelogoMicrosoft just came out with its second Laptop Hunters video. Personally, I think this one is better than the first one, but you decide (embedded below).

We’ve got a guy with a $1,500 budget looking for portability, battery life, and power. And he says he’s “technically savvy” and knows what he wants.

After spending some time in the Mac section, he sums up his experience by saying “Macs to me are about aesthetics more than they are about the computing power. I don’t want to pay for the brand. I want to pay for the computer.”

Ouch. That pretty much sums up the Mac critique of this commercial. Oh, and it ends with “I’m a PC Because I’m Really Picky.” Can’t wait to see how the blogosphere responds to this one! I’m sure there’s plenty to dissect. Interestingly enough, I had an exchange with VentureBeat’s MG Siegler yesterday that now seems relevant:

Bob Caswell: So are you saying you’d be a lot more convinced if someone was given much more than a $1,000 and still picked a PC?

MG Siegler: Yes, that would certainly be more convincing.

In any event, just remember that if you were offended or victimized before, who knows your state of being after this.

*Update* Good ol’ Dan Lyons offers his two cents to the Newsweek audience. He may be a little late to the discussion (centering around last week’s ad), but he’s got plenty of good things to say and uses numbers and stuff to back himself up rather than relying on opinion like we do here in the blogosphere.

Also, have to say, I love the latest discussion we’re having over at VentureBeat. And for those interested, you can follow me on Twitter: @bobcaswell.

Laptop Hunters #2 – Giampaolo

  • Better than the first, yeah. But am I the only one struggling to keep up with all the talking? These commercials are like 500 words per minute, and with the dense soundtrack, I have trouble understanding half of what he's saying!

    And as to his comment, “Macs to me are about aesthetics more than they are about the computing power. I don’t want to pay for the brand. I want to pay for the computer.” I can see how people would think that, though I know Apple would disagree, and it really annoys me when mac fanboys talk about the “fashion value” of Apple products. But isn't it weird that the argument MS makes against the Mac is that this guy has a preconceived notion that Macs are about aesthetics? That's like saying Ford is better because my dad says that GM only cares about making their cars sleek-looking.

    For me, it's about the operating system above all, and about the small touches that make the overall user experience better. Little things that don't get mentioned on the box or in the tech spec comparisons.

    Tthe thing that troubles me about these commercials is that it creates a somewhat false connection between Speed/Power/HD Size/Processor and the pleasure and utility you'll get out of the computer. For professional use, sure, pay close attention to the numbers, because it's costing you money if it's encoding your video a little slower, for example. But for regular people, and typical computer usage (email, internet, photos, music), the difference between one processor and another can be outweighed by time-saving features, well-designed bundled software, etc.

    It's the same as the ridiculous Megapixel War – having the highest number on your packaging helps sell cameras, but sure as heck doesn't mean your camera is better than another, more expensive camera with fewer megapixels.

    Whether this is smart advertising for Microsoft is one question (and it definitely could be, but I wonder if the focus on price won't hurt their message once the economy improves), but I think that the overall debate misses the point.

  • Fair enough.

    The commercials do move fast and maybe could convey the same message with less dialogue. I don't think it takes much concentration, though, to get what's going on.

    As for your Ford/GM analogy, I can see where you're going… But the key difference is that the commercial never states the causality you do with your analogy. Meaning, the guy talks about the Mac and gives his opinion. It's you who extrapolates and interprets that to mean Microsoft is better (or, in your example, “Ford is better”). It's never stated. This may be a subtle distinction, but an important one in my eyes. I think the message is much stronger by not stating the potential implication and letting you, on your own, come up with what the opinion means to you.

    Your point on the operating system plus better user experience and small touches is well taken. I hear this from almost everyone I know who's ever used a Mac for an extended period of time. I think Microsoft's response to this is Windows 7. I've been running it now for a few months and think it's done quite a bit in this realm. I do realize, though, the irony of pointing this out when it doesn't exist yet for those people that see this commercial. Although the commercial, naturally, is less about potential weaknesses and more about strengths.

    Where you're troubled around specs to utility correlation is understandable. While it's more complicated than that obviously, it's not necessarily inaccurate either. Just like price, it will always be an important factor in determining a computer purchase.

    Anyway, thanks for the engaging discussion. Always fun to discuss the nuances around the PC vs. Mac story!

  • My question: What computer stores have their employees wearing full suites?

    Follow me now @

  • Kyle kirchhoff


  • I think it's Fry's… didn't notice that before, kind of funny.

  • To your point about my car analogy. I see what you mean, and agree. I didn't intend to draw a precise comparison (and I was sloppy in adding the “better” bit) as much as I was trying to point out that MS was relying on “perception” of Macs by “regular people” as their way of dismissing them, rather than saying “This mac has a smaller hard drive, is slower, doesn't come with Norton antivirus trial preinstalled, (jk) etc.

    I just think it's interesting, and when paired with the “Guess I'm not cool enough” line from the previous spot, shows that Microsoft is trying to push this “culture” angle. That might be smart, though I think that over the last 5 or so years, Apple has shed a great deal of its “elite” label (thanks to the gateway drugs that are iPods and iPhones), and it might be tough to make it stick.

    As someone who uses both OSX and Windows on a daily basis, I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to Windows 7.

  • Andy

    Silverlight plugin required to watch video? No thanks.

  • No worries, Andy, it's on YouTube too:

  • I think Microsoft has finally hired the magic number of MBA's and some kind of marketing rebellion has taken place there.

    I'm not sure if I've ever seen an ad and went out and bought a computer before, but that was exactly what I did when I saw the *first* ad. I'm typing this on my AIR right now but eagerly anticipating what I ordered, a Samsung NC10 netbook. In my case, I had to have an ad tell me that “yo! second computer – just $500 !” Since I prefer XP over Vista anyway and have a bunch of old software I can run on it, XP in essence becomes Microsoft's “fighter brand” enabling Samsung to focus on hardware to match Apple – these commercials are actually out to *underscore that the OS is not as big a deal as hardware*, and it *works*.

    The irony is that Linux used to “own” this mental brandspace of “powerful cheap PC”. However, this brandspace is far more mainstream than the Linux OS world quite understood (OLPC excepted). And Linux doesn't advertise. Frankly this campaign has inspired me about what advertising with a serious positioning strategy can do. MS is all of a sudden poised to “cross the chasm” because of *an ad campaign*. This is the kind of thing advertising can do (not to mention moore's law).

  • When are they going to talk about Windows OS versus Mac OS?

  • These commercials are silly to me. More people have PCs than Apples. Obviously they bought them for a reason.

  • Matt

    I clicked on the link in the text to the webpage above. I was taken to the microsoft site, I got a popup asking me to install silverlight, I closed that then I got another popup asking me if i wanted to take a microsoft survey.
    It completley sums microsoft up, they don't give a dime about user experience, they just want to endlessly punt their crap into our faces. Don't they care that someone might want to actually look at content they create but doesn't want them to leech their life away. Sorry Bob, nice post, I like their campaign too! but the Microsoft reality is only a mouseclick away.

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  • I don't know for sure, but my guess is that will happen around the launch of Windows 7.

  • Hi Matt,

    Feedback always appreciated. As I mentioned earlier, feel free to use YouTube as an alternative (this campaign has its own channel on there):

  • sdfdsf


  • Cole

    Let me start off by saying I'm a COMPUTER user that happens to use a Mac because it's my preferred OS. But that doesn't mean I have to blindly defend Apple for ripping us off at every chance. As much as I LOVE my new Macbook Pro, the darn thing cost me $2000. And that's BEFORE upgrading the embarrassingly low 2GB RAM/250GB HDD on this “Pro” machine. And that's also BEFORE the $300 Applecare which is almost a requirement because todays Macs have the same failure rate as any intel based PC.

    So why did I spend over $2500 on a notebook in 2009? Because I wanted 2 things. A Mac and a 15″ Screen. And that's the biggest point Apple-defenders are missing about these commercials. If you don't want a 13″ ugly white notebook then the the cheapest 15″ Mac notebook is $2000 and 17″ is $2700. I don't need Firewire800, DisplayPort or a 9600 dedicated GPU, but because I want a real screen on a Mac then I paid a $1500 premium.

    Now build the commercial around that and you'll be able to shut up a lot of people.

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  • I'd say this ad campaign is an admission by Microsoft that they are scared. Quite an admission, when one reflects on how much market share the company has commanded over the years.

    Contrary to what is perhaps a popular belief, Microsoft is a company that follows, and makes products that are often derivative of work done by others. Microsoft is the kid who looked over your shoulder in class and asked you what the answer to no. 7 was, and today Steve Balmer seems like the guy from high school who brags about his exploits with a crazy bluster that is not quite right.

    Examples? What better than an ad which touts an application for stitching together photos?

    In 2000, Apple began to develop an OS that featured many circular interface features. How did MS answer for Vista? They nailed the Windows logo on an Aqua bubble. Sad, sad.

  • mpr

    Silverlight, meh.

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  • George Brock

    People that use MACS understand why we use them. Other people do not get it. Why debate it ?

  • Jayy

    I just want to know how desperate you have to be to accept being in an ad by Microshit. This guy's life is through! LOLLLLL

  • Terry

    How does the MacBook Pro have “less power”? The answer is it doesn't. Plus it's a pleasure to use partly because of the design but much more importantly because of the operating system Plus you can buy macs on the Internet like anything else and save hundreds of dollars. Anyway. It's all Microsoft marketing foolishness. Not a word about Windows, highlight Apple who doesn't care about competing with low end Windows plastic and feature nonsensical rambling by the actors in the commercial. All I can say is that Microsoft better hope Apple doesn't decide to strike back because they will spank Microsoft hard.

  • Terry

    I bought the same MBP laptop for $1699 after rebate on the internet and spent less than $159 to add 4 GB of ram and a 320GB 7200 rpm drive. I don't agree at all about Apple care being a requirement or that Apple laptops have the same failure rates as PC laptops. PC laptops use the cheapest parts they can possibly find for the most part which is why they fail more often. Oh yeah, you can get Apple care for a laptop on eBay for about $250.

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  • samx10

    Perhaps its not fear, but opportunity that Microsoft senses. Why not increase there marketshare when this is the type of economy that generally effects pricey brand centered companies.

  • Exactly.

  • misled

    He is probably a Sup. Knowing Fry's (as a former employee) they wouldn't have let a run of the mill salesman do that commercial…

    Most employees wear the standard white dress shirt w/ tie and slacks.

  • I agree that the new macs look pretty good, but the best thing about the new macs for me is that they caused a major price drop of the “old” macs. I picked up a 15″ 2.5 GHz Macbook Pro with 512 MB NVidia video RAM for $1500 on Amazon after rebate. Don't get me wrong, $1500 still seems like a TON of money to spend on a laptop, but I dare you to match those specs for less — on whatever OS. Of course I wasn't about to spend $700 more for the new version of MBP with the same specs either (plus I had to have a matte screen — just personal preference).

    I like macs and pcs for different reasons. They both have their strong points, and the truth is that I can do what I need to do on either one. So while it looks like there is a huge price difference between the two, if you shop around you'll find that it's not as big as you think. I say that, but the deal I got is gone. The same laptop I bought is now back up around $1700 — which is just out of range for the $1500 spending cap in the ad.

    Ultimately, I think Windows 7 will even things out quite a bit. Maybe I'm just too practical to really engage in this mac vs. pc thing. I like the hardware I chose because it's fast, light, thin, and has a decent (3 hr) battery. If someone else finds a better deal on something else, good for them. At this point I am a little partial to macs — mainly out of habit and ease of migration. That said, I am seriously considering a PC for a media center. I don't really see a clear winner in all of this — it's just shades of gray.

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  • Johannes Rexx

    What's with that SilverLight thing? I'm NOT going to download more proprietary software just to watch something as simple and commonplace as a video. Please use standard codecs and file formats on this site.

  • jupiter

    In the Newsweek piece, the David Webster quote says “…[but then Apple] ends up looking pretty mean-spirited, the way they go after customers” – That is Microsoft really.

    I found Microsoft to have a complete disregard for the consumer. The amount of hours wasted on this planet daily by incomplete, broken, software produced by Microsoft is despicable. It is clear why hardware is the target.

  • As mentioned earlier, it's on YouTube too:

  • jupiter- I'd say that if you subtract the number of hours you're talking about from the number of hours Microsoft has saved hundreds of millions of people through its software over the years… We'd still be looking at a very big positive number in terms of hours saved by consumers.

    It's just that, in this day and age, we tend to forget how far we've come and simply expect a perfect experience in every way. Nothing wrong with that, I'm a demanding consumer too.

  • As mentioned earlier, it's on YouTube too:

  • jupiter- I'd say that if you subtract the number of hours you're talking about from the number of hours Microsoft has saved hundreds of millions of people through its software over the years… We'd still be looking at a very big positive number in terms of hours saved by consumers.

    It's just that, in this day and age, we tend to forget how far we've come and simply expect a perfect experience in every way. Nothing wrong with that, I'm a demanding consumer too.

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