Feeds

Apple's panties in bunch over Microsoft ads

Adverts misleading? Who knew!

The essential guide to IT transformation

Apple's legal arm asked Microsoft to pull its ongoing series of Laptop Hunter ads, according to one Microsoft exec.

On Wednesday, at Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference 2009 (WPC09), the company's COO, Kevin Turner, gave a traditional partner-stroking talk that alternated between thanking and exhorting the assembled Microsofties. Near the end of his 8,000-word homily, however, he related a phone call that prompted the crowd to break into applause.

Speaking about Microsoft's Laptop Hunter ads, which show "real people" choosing purportedly affordable Windows-based laptops over purportedly overpriced Macs, he said:

And you know why I know they're working? Because two weeks ago we got a call from the Apple legal department saying, hey - this is a true story - saying, "Hey, you need to stop running those ads, we lowered our prices." They took like $100 off or something. It was the greatest single phone call in the history that I've ever taken in business.

I did cartwheels down the hallway. At first I said, "Is this a joke? Who are you?" Not understanding what an opportunity. And so we're just going to keep running them and running them and running them.

Technically, Apple has a point. One of the ads - "Lauren and Sue get a Dell XPS 13" - prominently features a 2.4GB, 15-inch MacBook Pro's price tag, which lists it for $1,999. That model was superseded early last month by a 2.53GHz model, which now lists for $1,699.

But considering that Lauren and mom Sue ended up buying a $972 Dell, the price discrepancy between the two MacBooks could be considered nitpicking.

What's more interesting is that the Laptop Hunter ads are getting under Apple's skin.

Apple has had a long run of advertising success. Its Get a Mac series debuted in 2006 and has continued through 59 episodes in which cool, calm Justin "I'm a Mac" Long regularly flusters eminently flusterable John "I'm a PC" Hodgman. And, in a number of spots, Long gets the girl.

Microsoft first responded to the Get a Mac campaign with an astonishingly lame but mercifully brief series of ads featuring Bill Gates teamed up with Jerry Seinfeld, who was reportedly paid $10m to help Bill flog Windows.

If you think "astonishingly lame" is a harsh appraisal, try to make it through both the Shoe Circus and New Family spots, then reassess.

After flushing that ad money down the crapper while humiliating Microsoft's founder and chairman - and after watching Vista twist slowly in the wind - Microsoft's marketing department came up with a brilliant idea: ignore Windows itself and simply bang the drum for PCs that just happen to run Windows.

And so the Laptop Hunter campaign was born, featuring supposedly real-world situations with such attractive folks as perky Lauren ("I'm just not cool enough to be a Mac person"), cute-as-a-button Jackson ("I'm a PC and I'm eleven"), and suave and debonair Giampaolo, ("I'm technically savvy").

The pro-PC tech specs and pricing claims in the Laptop Hunter ads are as debatable as the anti-PC harangues in Apple's Get a Mac series. But these are adverts, an artistic form in which truth takes a back seat to impact.

And although hard numbers on the Laptop Hunters campaign are both hard to come by and as debatable as the truthiness of the ads themselves, the ads' effectiveness can be seen not only in the fact that Apple has launched Get a Mac ads directly targeting them (Elimination and PC Choice Chat, for example), but also that Laptop Hunters has spawned a YouTubed flood of parodies (Homeless Frank is one of the few watchable ones) and fanboi refutations.

It was the rare fanatic who even bothered to take aim at Shoe Circus and New Family. Sorry, Jerry and Bill.

And now comes word that Apple's legal forces are in high dudgeon over Laptop Hunters. If true - there's been no independent confirmation - then it's no surprise that, as COO Turner said, "We're just going to keep running them and running them and running them." ®

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

More from The Register

next story
6 Obvious Reasons Why Facebook Will Ban This Article (Thank God)
Clampdown on clickbait ... and El Reg is OK with this
Mozilla's 'Tiles' ads debut in new Firefox nightlies
You can try turning them off and on again
No, thank you. I will not code for the Caliphate
Some assignments, even the Bongster decline must
Banking apps: Handy, can grab all your money... and RIDDLED with coding flaws
Yep, that one place you'd hoped you wouldn't find 'em
TROLL SLAYER Google grabs $1.3 MEEELLION in patent counter-suit
Chocolate Factory hits back at firm for suing customers
Primetime precrime? Minority Report TV series 'being developed'
I have to know. I have to find out what happened to my life
Netflix swallows yet another bitter pill, inks peering deal with TWC
Net neutrality crusader once again pays up for priority access
Ex-IBM CEO John Akers dies at 79
An era disrupted by the advent of the PC
prev story

Whitepapers

Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up distributed data
Eliminating the redundant use of bandwidth and storage capacity and application consolidation in the modern data center.
The essential guide to IT transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIOs automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.