Strange Microsoft Commercials

I wrote recently of the new Microsoft ad featuring Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Gates having a rambling discussion about everything except actual Microsoft products (including edible computers). After only two weeks of airing the commercial has been pulled however not because of its bewildering nature. Microsoft top dogs say that this was part of the original plan. Now Microsoft has begun running a direct retaliation to Apple’s Mac vs. PC campaign. The commercial begins with an actual Microsoft employee dressed as the “PC” (as portrayed by John Hodgman in the Apple ads) who proclaims “I am a PC and I have been made into a stereotype.” The ad then begins to show different folks, from Microsoft employees to celebrities, who use Windows.

Microsoft has stated that the Seinfeld spot as well as this new advertisement are simply the beginnings of an overall story arc despite the fact that they may seem unrelated. The short-term purpose of the new spot is to state that PC users are nothing like the stereotype that the Apple ads have made them out to be.

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My response to this last statement would be “no, but their computers are.” PC and Mac (portrayed by Hodgman and Justin Long, respectively) are not meant to represent users but products and, by extension, the companies who make them. Indeed there are many different types of personal computer users who come from a variety of backgrounds with a variety of tasks they want to accomplish on their computers. There are business-owners and artists, accountants and designers, marketing execs and musicians. The point of the “I’m a Mac, I’m a PC” ads is to say “whatever your purpose for your computer, why would you ever use a product that limits what you can achieve? Why would you pay money for a product which is nowhere near diverse enough to meet all of the computing needs you may have?” Their purpose is not to say “if you use a Windows machine then you must wear a beige suit and act dorky.” Or that “you must be a suit-wearing, breifcase-totin’ IBM type.” The ads are using anthropromorphism, not stereotypes.


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