“Get a Mac” campaign – Time for a change?

As I sit here blogging on my Mac, it got me thinking about the Mac vs. PC debate and more importantly, Apple’s “Get a Mac” advertising campaign. We all know the campaign, we all know the characters, Mac played by actor Justin Long and PC played by author and humorist John Hodgman.

When the campaign first hit the air in 2006, I thought it was brilliant. Personalizing both the Mac and PC brands as they had with the two characters was perfect. Mac was the trendy, cool, young computer while PC was the stuffy old businessman computer. Apple had characterized their brand perfectly, and characterized the PC brand, less than favourably.

There was a ton of buzz around the campaign when it first came out, and spot after spot, we all laughed and enjoyed as PC just couldn’t keep up to Mac’s cool features. To show you what I mean, here is an example of one of the early spots in the campaign.

Out of the Box (2006)
Client: Apple
Agency: TBWA\Media Arts Lab

But then… Vista hit. It was a nightmare for Microsoft and received nothing but horrible reviews. They had significantly shot themselves in the foot, and Apple was having a field day. I believe that this was a turning point in the “Get a Mac” campaign. Apple, rather than go for Microsoft’s throat, decided to humanize each of Vista’s many flaws in every new spot while Mac rolled it’s eyes with a smug look on it’s face. At first, it was great. But after a while, PC had become the star of the campaign.

Commercial after commercial, PC was getting into more and more situations, essentially carrying the entire campaign. PC had become Wile E. Coyote, and Mac had become the Roadrunner. And while the Roadrunner always wins, we eventually feel sorry for Mr. E. Coyote and want him catch that smug bastard.

It ‘s not even about Apple anymore. It’s about what PC isn’t. And it falls flat.

To see what I’m talking about, check out these two new spots in the campaign:

PC Innovation Lab (2009)
Client: Apple
Agency: TBWA\Media Arts Lab

Or even worse:

Surprise (2009)
Client: Apple
Agency: TBWA\Media Arts Lab

The second one doesn’t even say anything about Mac, just that PC continues to be jealous. Hardly a compelling message. Even in the first spot, rather than introducing the cool new features from Apple, such as the new battery or the Mac-safe chord, the commercial briefly mentions them but instead focuses on PC’s attempts to be innovative.

So I ask, based on the evolution of this campaign, in my opinion not for the better, is it time for a change? For what was once a cutting-edge advertising campaign that worked, is Apple running out of interesting things to say?

C’mon Apple, you can do better.

Discuss.

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4 Responses to “Get a Mac” campaign – Time for a change?

  1. Great post Dan!

    I agree with you that those ads are long in the tooth.

    There’s a lot of sources who claim that the appeal of the ads aren’t with Mac folk – but die-hard Windows folk. They love them. It’s like Dilbert for an OS. Apple has wasted a lot of money entertaining Microsofties.

    Apple did do some amazing work for the original iPod though – the silhouette U2 fused mind-blends were brilliant. The recent motion-sickness-inducing iPod app ads were also very effective, I think.

    Not sure how they’ll go cold turkey and kill PCvsMac. When people dress up as them for Halloween, you know you have a problem! lol

  2. danvertising says:

    That doesn’t surprise me.

    Especially since PC is the star of the Mac ads.

    In the latest commercial, the first sentence is “I’m looking to buy a great computer” “Great. Buy a PC”

    Not very competitive messaging.

  3. Matt says:

    Oana and I both think the “surprise” ad was Aweeesome! (high voice)

  4. danvertising says:

    Matt, why’s that?

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