Microsoft’s latest commercial misses the point

Sun, Mar 29, 2009

Analysis, Featured, News

Microsoft’s latest commercial has been getting a lot of buzz over the past few days, but lost in the discussion is whether or not the ad is even effective in the first place.  I, for one, thought the ad was pretty entertaining, but feel that it ultimately failed to adequately address the actual reasons people decide to switch over to Macs in the first place.

Consumers have increasingly been migrating over to the Mac from the PC for a number of reasons.  Price, however, isn’t one of those reasons, and it’s somewhat strange that Microsoft would choose this particular angle to respond to Apple’s “I’m a Mac” campaign.  In a way, Microsoft’s latest commercial seems to presuppose that consumers are already thinking about switching, and Microsoft is basically left yelling, “No! Wait!  Don’t switch over to Apple, their laptops are more expensive!”  The problem is that most people already know that.

Moreover, if price is already an issue for you, then you don’t need a commercial from Microsoft to sway you away from purchasing a Mac.  Apple sells its computers on features, and the notion that they’re easier to use. If Microsoft wants to prevent users from switching, it needs to compete on the same level, and point out some of the more beneficial features of its own OS relative to Apple’s.  

The problem with Microsoft is that it assumes that Vista is the exact equivalent to OS X.  That’s not the case, and the difference in the user experience becomes even more glaring when you compare Apple’s hardware against cheaply produced PC boxes.  Because Microsoft fails to take into account the difference in out of the box features between a Mac and PC, all it’s left to advertise is how cheap PC’s can be.  Cheap PC’s are nothing new, and if consumers continue to abandon third-rate machines for more expensive Macs, then clearly something else is driving that demand, and that’s exactly what Microsoft should focus on fixing.

Microsoft makes quick mention of why users might be flocking to the Mac when the young lady in the aforementioned commercial mentions, “I’m just not cool enough to be a Mac user.”  Oh lordy!  When will Microsoft learn that this ridiculous notion of “coolness” barely drives any significant sales at all.  There’s a distinct difference between buying a product that you think is cool, and buying a product because you think it will make you cool.  People buy Macs because they can do cool things with them straight out of the box, not because they think they’ll all of a sudden become popular and respected in their social circle.

If Microsoft wants to get people excited about using Windows, it needs to spend more time focusing on its own OS, and less time focusing on price and the notion of the “cool Mac user.”


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2 Comments For This Post

  1. mark Says:

    There’s tremendous frustration in the Windows camp (Microsoft and its hardware partners). The partners are unhappy with Microsoft’s lack of OS progress/direction, and Microsoft believes its hardware partners (HP, Dell, Acer, Sony, etc plus computer retail stores) aren’t being effective in countering Apple (and Apple Stores). So Microsoft starts advertising more (as its partners advertise less). It starts plans to launch retail stores as the biggest retail partner (Best Buy) also sells Macs.

    This also happened with mp3 players. Hardware partners unhappy with the quality of WindowsMedia/PlaysforSure software and affiliated Stores. Microsoft unhappy with what they perceive as lack of innovative and competitive hardware designs. Eventually, Microsoft put all of them into second-rate status, and made its own Zune hardware and Marketplace. This last step really doesn’t seem like an option for MS when it comes to PCs.

    Ironically, an Apple “I’m A Mac” ad told Microsoft exactly what to do: Fix and make its software better than Apple’s.

  2. mpr Says:

    I’m currently reading through Guy Kawasaki’s book “Reality Check” and the chapter I just read – “The Art of Driving Your Competition Crazy” confirms in my mind that Apple retains the upper hand. Also everything I’ve read by Jack Trout and Al Ries confirms that Apple still has the upper hand in the mind. Mindshare and marketshare are two different things of course, but eventually mindshare will translate to marketshare. Perhaps it already is.

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