Now that I’ve used a bit of parody to point out how some of Microsoft’s challenges with Vista aren’t really its fault, I’m again addressing Microsoft’s Vista commercials. I didn’t find the second Gates-Seinfeld spot to have as pronounced a latent message as the first, although I defended both ads’ general direction in a podcast discussion with Gene Steinberg this week (iTunes link here, MP3 file here).
The new “I’m a PC” commercial, Web presence, and what Michael Gartenberg points out to be the social aspects, though, take things in a different direction and is doing unto Apple what Apple did to Vista, mischaracterize it. As I said early on in the Get a Mac campaign, one reason the commercials worked was that they avoided the bad taste that the Switcher campaign left in many PC users’ mouths. The “Get a Mac” ads don’t really stereotype PC users, they stereotype the PC (although Hodgman’s behavior has become more bizarre as the campaign has progressed.). Reassociating the person and the platform again portrays Apple as the snide PC user-mocking company of yore. However, with Apple’s surge over the past few years and Apple stores opening their doors to millions of PC users, can that label stick? And are even satisfied PC users offended by the “Get a Mac” campaign?
The ad also evokes recent Microsoft advertising history as this notion of the PC as an empowering tool sounds very similar to Microsoft’s messaging in the “Wow starts now” ads that ran at he launch of Vista, with the new twist that acknowledges Windows’ ubiquity (which Get a Mac has also done in an ad in which PC says, “I’m still the king.”) . But that’s not necessarily bad. It reinforces that — while there may be more cause to grumble than on a Mac — the vast majority of the vast array of Vista users are being productive on the platform.