Microsoft’s New Ad: Tell Me Something I Don’t Already Know

March 27, 2009

Microsoft has a new PC ad which at first glance, deserves a complement. It’s much more straightforward (as opposed to those terrible Seinfeld ones) and hits Apple in a well-acknowledged weak spot – Macs are on average, more expensive than PCs.

I’m not going to get into a big debate about “cost of ownership,” ease of use, or wasted time troubleshooting computers. Nor will I discuss why buying the “middle of the road” product seems to be the best use of one’s money, as opposed to the cheapest or most expensive.

Instead I’ll just criticize this ad for stating the obvious. Like, Macs are more expensive than PCs. Uh, duh. Tell me something I don’t already know.

The question Microsoft should be asking is: why are Mac users willing to pay more? All I’ll say is: it’s not just about hardware specs. There’s also this thought: when I am using a Mac, I feel like I’m using my computer and OS X is helping me get stuff done. When I use a PC, I feel like I’m using someone else’s computer and Windows is deliberately preventing me from getting things done.

Secondly: it’s not just about the Mac. Sure Miss Recent College Grad didn’t pony up for a MacBook, but it’s a safe bet she’s “cool enough” to purchase an iPod at $79, loads of music via iTunes, or an iPhone. Call it “nano-cool.” Apple makes money either way. How are those Zune sales?

Anyhow, to get back to the point of this post, the fact that Macs are more expensive than PCs is not new information. Anyone who bought a Mac in the last decade has already done the math in their heads and not bought a PC. I’d say pretty much every PC user has done the exact same thing and come up with the opposite conclusion. So they get a Dell and save a few hundred bucks. Then they turn around and blow it on an iPod.

In conclusion, this ad says nothing new and therefore will convince nobody of anything they weren’t already thinking beforehand. Still, congrats on replacing Seinfeld with Captain Obvious.

(Note: as I finished this post, I noticed MG Siegler at VentureBeat came to a similar conclusion. Mac users, great minds, yada yada yada.)


  1. jcieplinski says:

    My problem is that the premise is completely contrived. What computer buyer's only two criteria are 1) spend less than $1,000, and 2) get a 17″ screen? Right. No one.

    17″ laptop users are mainly graphics pros and hi-end nerds like me. This girl just wants a computer for writing Word docs. Is she willing to cart around an 8 lb. monster laptop just to get the larger screen? And a larger screen that is only 1440 x 900, no less?

    In the real world, people like her want the smallest laptop possible. If MS wanted to really make this ad effective, they would have had her try to buy a Macbook Air. The problem is, small PC laptops are either just as expensive as the Air, or they are netbooks running Linux. So they can't make that argument.

  2. webomatica says:

    …and there's also some research going into the quality of the PC “Lauren”
    purchased. Doesn't look too good.

  3. Numbers says:

    Everything has to do with brand. Apple has perfected its ability to promote its products, whereas microsoft has not.

  4. This is really cool. Thank you for sharing this article.

  5. Russ says:

    I think all labtops will come down in price very soon.