the frequency a kenny chung blog

The one consistency I’ve found with Microsoft advertisements is that they’re pretty inconsistent. In the past few years (since the modern PC vs. Mac wars began), Windows commercials have generally been hit-or-miss.

The last three-spot TV campaign they ran showed a lot of promise. I especially liked the introductory one featuring an Asian girl named Kylie who, after showcasing Vista’s ease of use, exclaims “I’m a PC and I’m four and a half!” For once, it seemed as if Microsoft had their fingers on the pulse on what people found memorable and worth sharing. Simply put, people love watching cute kids and create buzz around those types of videos (just consider the YouTube hits Hey Jude sung by a small Asian boy or the more recent kittens inspired by kittens).

And then the Microsoft effect kicked in. Each subsequent commercial featured older kids, each less cute than the last. The follow-up commercial featured a 7-year old girl named Alexa who demonstrated Vista’s ability to stitch photos together. For me, that one was a miss. But then the last of the set featured an 8-year old boy named Adam (who had the voice of a teenager) creating a photo slideshow. After the first time, I had no desire whatsoever to see that commercial again.

Anyway, Microsoft has rolled out a new TV campaign (by Crispin Porter). It features Lauren, a young woman trying to find a laptop with certain specifications for under a grand. She visits an Apple store, where only one of the computers is within her budget but outside of what she wants. Eventually she decides to buy a PC from BestBuy and Microsoft foots the bill. On the drive over to Best Buy, Lauren makes a statement that’s making waves around the tech marketing industry: “I’m just not cool enough to be a Mac person.”

Watch the spot (via MSN):
<a href=”http://video.msn.com/?mkt=en-US&#038;playlist=videoByUuids:uuids:0bb6a07c-c829-4562-8375-49e6693810c7&#038;showPlaylist=true&#038;from=msnvideo” mce_href=”http://video.msn.com/?mkt=en-US&amp;playlist=videoByUuids:uuids:0bb6a07c-c829-4562-8375-49e6693810c7&amp;showPlaylist=true&amp;from=msnvideo” target=”_new” title=”Laptop Hunters $1000 – Lauren Gets an HP Pavilion”>Video: Laptop Hunters $1000 – Lauren Gets an HP Pavilion</a>

Why this Ad works:

In the first college Advertising course I ever took, we discussed why people buy certain brands and products when they enter a store. And the one point that’s really stuck with me through the years (due to personal relevance) is that generally, you cannot change the mind of the consumer who walks in with a mission to spend the least amount of money. Clever smear campaigns against the competition may help you, but of course, they have their consequences.

The latest PC ad (and the ongoing marketing technique of making the term ‘PC’ synonymous with Windows, and by extension Vista) taps right into the most undeniable benefit of purchasing a Windows-loaded machine: It’s cheaper. The ad is obviously not targeted towards Mac or PC loyalists, but to the ever-growing number of consumers who want to buy a new computer and aren’t exactly tech-savvy. In this day and age, that’s a critical audience. Think about it: your aunt wants a new computer to check her e-mail and isn’t sure whether to get a PC or a Mac. She sees this commercial, which convinces her to try a PC because she just wants the barebones capabilities. So she ends up buying one and (ideally) acclimates to the OS. Boom, brand loyalty. Then let’s say your younger cousins will also use the computer. Parents are a major reference group affecting brand loyalty so your cousins become second generation Microsoft users and buy PCs for years to come.

Of course, that example is 100% dependent on how Apple responds to the Microsoft ad. They’re usually very good with tongue-in-cheek retorts that don’t come off as petty.

So we’ll see.

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