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Apple Fans Up In Arms Over Microsoft Notebook AD

John Murrell of SiliconValley.com summed up the emotion that is oozing out of Apple fans when he wrote If you were a Mac fan watching the NCAA tourney action over the weekend, the only thing worse than getting your bracket busted was getting your chops busted by repeated showings of the first in a new series of Microsoft ads aimed at one of Apple’s perceived soft spots — price. Now in heavy prime-time rotation, the initial instalment of the “Laptop Hunters” ads features vivacious Lauren, who was recruited for what she believed was generic market research into laptop purchases, given a $1,000 budget, and turned loose to shop for a laptop that met her needs — in this case, something reasonably speedy with a 17-inch screen and a comfortable keyboard.

Followed by a camera crew, Lauren makes a quick U-turn out of an Apple store after determining that the only Mac portable in her price range had a 13-inch screen. Later, at a Best Buy, Lauren bounces through a bountiful selection of Windows-based machines before picking an HP Pavilion for $699 and declaring, “I’m a PC and I got just what I wanted.” And the money quote? In the car between stores, Lauren sighs in mock resignation, “I’m just not cool enough to be a Mac person.”
Well, you could practically hear the Mac hackles going up every time the commercial ran, and the fan sites quickly filled with indignation.

There were, of course, the standard defences to this line of attack, a Microsoft staple: You get what you pay for, look at total cost of ownership, spec-for-spec prices are comparable, good design and ease of use is worth something, etc. But Lauren’s little sarcastic aside seemed to stoke some extra ire in the commentary. Doubts were raised over Lauren’s veracity because she’s an aspiring actress and her credibility as a bargain hunter because she’s driving a nice Volkswagen.

Still frames from the ad were analysed like the Zapruder film for evidence of deceptive editing. And the machine that made Lauren so happy was derided as “a piece of crap” and “the epitome of what people dislike about PCs.” Throw in the “not cool enough” line, says Technologizer’s Ed Oswald, and the ad goes from misleading to “offensive.”

Based just on the nerve it seems to have hit among the Mac faithful, Microsoft must already be tickled with the spot, especially after the unrelenting slagging PCs have taken in Apple ads from “1984” to the present. And whether you believe the bang-for-buck argument is legit or not, the campaign delivers it pretty effectively and at a time when it has a good chance of resonating. But what I’d really like to see are some follow-up commercials six months or a year down the road, after the Laptop Hunters have had a chance to live with their choices for a while. The only question is whether those ads would be made by Microsoft or Apple.

For more John Mirrell comment go to www.siliconvalley.com