I’ve always disliked Apple for very specific reasons: its insistence on closed and propriety systems and its general hipsterish I’m-so-much-cooler-than-you-simply-because-of-my-computer’s-branding attitude being among the top reasons.
But, I could never deny, nor would I ever try, that they have not pushed the envelope as far as technology goes. The company has found a way to consistently be at the forefront of innovation (that something may be known as Steve Jobs). But in that way, I respect Apple. They make gorgeous products (even if they’re prettifying and borrowing heavily from BSD) and they get people to buy them.
But these ads cross the line.
An interesting post came across my screen this morning via Techmeme: Harry McCracken’s opinion on the latest Apple TV advertisements. He adeptly points out that these are Apple ads about Microsoft ads about Apple ads about Microsoft. (It makes sense when you parse it all out, I promise– “I’m a PC,” then “I’m a PC and I’ve been made into a stereotype,” now this).
He’s right: the whole thing has devolved into this ridiculous back-and-forth and while I understand Microsoft’s need to defend itself, this is a whole new level.
McCracken goes on to point out that a very select number of people will actually understand the jokes, since they are, as he puts it, inside baseball: “The first one appears to assume that you care about Microsoft advertising budgets, and the second one doesn’t make much sense at all unless you’ve noticed the downplaying of Vista in recent Microsoft ads.” So true. And more to the point: why does the average joe (or Joe the Plumber) care about hating on Microsoft’s latest advertising campaign? Doesn’t he just want to buy a computer, not hear some snarky comment from Apple about advertising…through a piece of advertising?
The thing that gets me about these comments is not just that they’re “inside baseball,” which they are. It’s that these ads don’t even come close to touting a Mac’s benefits, they don’t try to define who a Mac user is any better, and all they do make fun of Microsoft…not for its software, not for its own history of innovation, but for the company’s decision of where to spend its own money.
It’s like negative campaigning in politics, except only one of the candidates is doing it.
McCracken says he wishes both companies would put out some ads which make consumers happier and more productive. I’d agree, except I don’t see Microsoft as having done anything wrong. They defended themselves. So really, this is not a case of two (political) advertising campaigns which have both gone negative. This is Apple, playing the aggressor, taking cheap hits at its competitor.