Apple ad campaign misses target

Connor Guy

Connor Guy“Hi, I’m a Mac.”
“And I’m a PC”

Apple computers has a line of television advertisements that all begin with these two lines. The advertisements feature anthropomorphized versions of an Apple computer and the competing, Windows-running PC. You’ve probably seen them.

The “Mac” is a hip young guy maybe in his mid-twenties. He wears T-shirts and flannel shirts with trendy-looking jeans and is slightly unshaven. He keeps his hands in his pockets with his thumbs sticking out. You can see his laid-back, fun-loving attitude in the way he carries himself. He looks like he’s about to go play guitar in a garage band with his buddies when the commercial is over.

The PC, on the other hand, is a slightly stocky, certifiable nerd who always wears a suit and tie.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with this general idea. Apple has every right to portray their product as a hip, carefree guy, and their competitor as a bumbling nerd. Hey, it’s advertising.

Unfortunately, these ads make some gross and misleading generalizations.

In one of them, the Mac says, “I’m into doing fun stuff like movies and music.”

The PC counters, “I also do fun stuff, like time sheets and spreadsheets and pie-charts.”

Right, PCs obviously don’t play movies or music at all; they can accomplish only boring, office-related tasks.

Does Steve Jobs really expect us to buy this? True, Apple computers are rather simple and streamlined compared to many PCs. But that certainly doesn’t mean that PCs can’t do the “fun stuff” that the trendy protagonist of these advertisements talks about.

Apple doesn’t limit this comparison to computers. They try to extend the juxtaposition to a corporate level.

Apple wants to give us the impression that as a corporation, they embody flannel-shirt-guy’s way of life. They try to build this “independent” image that really doesn’t hold any water.

In the commercials, Microsoft is the suit-wearing, corporate, big-businessy one. The anthropomorphized Apple Corporation is just an average, laid-back guy, who sincerely cares about his customers and really just wants to help them have fun. What an altruistic corporate motto!

Yes, Microsoft did have some issues with being a monopoly. But Apple isn’t quite as innocent as they would have us think. Right now they’re being sued for dominating the digital music industry with iTunes just as Microsoft was for dominating with Windows.

But that’s not all; Apple has made a few other underhanded corporate moves recently. The iPhone pricing incident comes readily to mind. They initially priced the all-inclusive wonder gadget at a whopping $600 but only long enough rake in their most loyal customers’ money. After a short period, they dropped the price by an unprecedented $200.

I realize that it’s potentially a bit hypocritical for me to write this column on the computer that they’re advertising. That’s right: Along with what seems like just about everyone else here at Whitman, I own one of those sleek, shiny, white Macbooks.

But I didn’t buy my computer because I thought owning it would turn me into a fun-loving hipster. I bought it because it was relatively inexpensive and extremely small. Apple has a great product; they don’t need to convince me that they’re all about fun, or even that they’re corporately ethical to get me to buy from them.