Microsoft includes Apple stores in TV ad

Microsoft’s latest TV commercials take a stark step forward for the firm: it flat out acknowledges Apple.

In the past, Microsoft advertising had always focused entirely on its own products, unlike Apple which runs the direct comparison tactics of ‘PC vs Mac’. Even when Microsoft threw in a not-so-subtle reference in its ‘I’m a PC’ campaign, there was no sign of Apple.

That’s pretty standard practice in advertising: the largest firm in a market rarely acknowledges its rivals, while smaller firms use direct comparisons to try to overcome the perception that bigger is better.

But the latest Microsoft spot changes that. It features a character looking for a 17-inch laptop for under a thousand dollars. She goes into what is clearly an Apple store and, not surprisingly, fails in her quest, instead winding up getting an HP laptop from what appears to be Best Buy. Here is the commercial:

As well as focusing on the price, the ad takes a dig at Apple’s branding and marketing with the shopper declaring that “I’m just not cool enough to be a Mac person”.

That might be a risky tactic. It certainly fits in with the Microsoft argument that Macs are overpriced because they are fashionable, but the logical conclusion is that PCs are not cool products. Combined with highlighting that they are inexpensive (which can be read as ‘cheap’), and it’s not the type of branding most on Madison Avenue would advocate.

The Associated Press reports that the commercial was unscripted. The shopper, Lauren, was recruited through a Craigslist posting and told she could keep whichever machine she bought.

Microsoft explicitly advertising PCs as cheaper than Macs may be new, but it’s a point the company has made before. Last October Brad Brooks, who heads Microsoft’s consumer marketing, said there was an Apple tax: a series of costs such as limited choice and upgrades which make Macs even less value than their retail price would suggest.

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