Hey Apple, What Happened to Mac vs. PC?

By Renee C. Quinn
October 16, 2011

Forever a PC family, IPWatchdog has slowly converted over to all Apple/Mac products.  It started with iPhones, then an iPad, followed by 27″ iMacs, and now MacBook Airs.  This conversion ultimately got me thinking, “What happened to the old Mac vs. PC Commercials?”

Nearly two years ago I wrote an article Mac vs. PC: A Simplistic Yet Effective Marketing Strategy.  You remember Mac vs. PC don’t you?  The John Hodgeman played usually frazzled, often disheveled “PC” and Justin Long played the always hip, cool and technologically advanced Mac.  The Get a Mac ads, which started in May of 2006 and ended in October of 2009, seem to have virtually disappeared.  In fact, the commercials are not even featured on the Apple Website.  If you click on the “Commercials” link you are now taken to a “Why You’ll Love a Mac page.  Boring.  Could it be that Apple thinks PC’s no longer have the issues that have always plagued them in the past?  I doubt it.  Why do you think we are moving over to “the Dark Side???”  Maybe Hodgeman and Long got too big for their roles?  Well no matter what the reason, I have one question, “Hey Apple, what happened to Mac vs. PC?”

The ads were simple, the props were few (if any) and were overly simplified and the production costs must have been staggeringly low yet the impact of such a marketing strategy was dauntingly high.  Not to mention, they were highly effective in getting their point across in a humorous and unforgettable way.  In fact, I would fast forward through other commercials just to watch the newest Mac vs. PC ad.  If you miss the Mac vs. PC ads as much as I do, I’ve got great news.  AdWeek has compiled an embedded YouTube video list of all 66 ads that were created as part of the Get a Mac Ad campaign all in one place.  They even added a brief description for each.

[Google_468_60]

Obviously others within the industry did not miss the ingenuity of the Ad campaign.  Think about it.  Have you seen the recent T-Mobile My Touch 4G ads?  The star of these ads, the T-Mobile My Touch 4G girl, is played by Canadian born fashion model, Carly Foulkes.  In the campaign, the Mytouch 4G is compared to the iPhone 4 and it’s slow and weighted down network(s) AT&T and now Verizon.

They seem conspicuously similar to the Mac vs. PC ads in the Get a Mac ad campaign, don’t you think?  Could it be that T-mobile saw the brilliance in this most simplistic yet effective marketing tactic?  Why don’t you decide?  Take a look at the following TMobile My Touch 4G ad; “Glitchy”.

Now take a look at the first ad in this awesome stream of video which features 30 of the 66 Mac vs. PC Ads. Take notice to the similarities between the two.

The PC vs. Mac ad has 2 male actors, and the T-Mobile Mytouch 4G ads usually feature 1 woman actress and 1 or more other characters.  But other than that, I’d say they are virtually the same.  Let’s do a little comparative analysis shall we?

Get a Mac Ad Campaign

  1. Simple White Or Light Gray Back Ground
  2. Starts Every Commercial with “Hello, I’m a Mac”
  3. A Very Simple “Tune” Plays In the Back Ground
  4. Features 2 Main Characters: Mac & PC
  5. No Secondary Characters
  6. Features Multiple Guest Characters
  7. Features Few, Overly Simplified Props, If Any
  8. Mac Is Young, Hip, Cool, Laid Back and Always Having Fun
  9. PC Is Often Disheveled, Frazzled, Uptight, Stressed Out, Nerdy, Depressed and Oblivious
  10. No third main character
  11. PC Is Very Jealous of Mac
  12. PC Always Wears A Suit and Tie
  13. Mac Always Wears Jeans, A T-shirt and/or A Buttoned Down Shirt

T-mobile My Touch 4G Ad Campaign

  1. Simple White Or Light Gray Back Ground
  2. Starts Every Commercial with “Hello, I’m a T-Mobile My Touch 4G”A
  3. A Very Simple “Tune” Plays In the Back Ground
  4. Features 1 Main Character; T-mobile My Touch 4G
  5. Features 2 Secondary Characters: iPhone 4 and AT&T
  6. Features Multiple Guest Characters
  7. Minimal Props In Each Ad Such As A Motorcycle and A Mini-bike
  8. T-mobile My Touch 4G is Young, Pretty and Is Always Smiling
  9. iPhone 4 is Young and Hip But Is Always Weighted Down By His Slow AT&T Network
  10. AT&T is Middle-aged, Slow, Dorky and Always Making Excuses
  11. AT&T Often Seems Proud of Himself When He Slows iPhone 4 Down
  12. AT&T always wears the same suit and light blue tie
  13. iPhone Always Wears A Gray Buttoned Down Shirt and A Black Sports Coat

[Google_468_60]

If you didn’t know better you’d think that the two companies used the same ad agency that gave each company the same concept.  But obviously that is not the case because the Get a Mac Campaign started in 2006 and the T-Mobile Mytouch 4G campaign started in November of 2010.  What most people point out is how T-Mobile is taking “hits” at AT&T and now even Verizon.  But there is very little mention just how many similarities these commercials have to the Get a Mac campaign.  If the ad campaign itself were a patent, T-Mobile would be infringing for sure!  Thought I’d ad a little patent humor for you lawyer-types.

The T-Mobile ad campaign is interesting and fun and for a commercial the actors are quite good in their roles.  But, no one can deny the fact that concept was masked after Apple’s Get a Mac ad campaign.  I must say though, that my heart still belongs to PC and Mac.  Which brings up the question of what happened to, “If it ain’t broke…?” Did Apple think the characters were getting stale?  Did they think we were getting bored?  Did they think the PC problems were fixed with Windows 7?  I think not.  So I ask, once again, Hey Apple, what happened to Mac vs. PC?

The Author

Renee C. Quinn

Renee C. Quinn Working with IPWatchdog since April of 2006, Renée C Quinn is the Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer of IPWatchdog, Inc where she is responsible for overseeing all of the day-to-day financial, administrative, operational and procedural aspects of IPWatchdog, Inc.

As a key member of the executive management team, Renée is tasked with handling all aspects of operations, Finance, Human Resources, Public Relations, Marketing and Events for IPWatchdog. In addition, Renée is the producer for the IPWatchdog Weekly Webinar series and the IPWatchdog Institute Suite of courses.

Renée has written on various business, marketing, brand building and social media topics for IPWatchdog.com as well as Inventor’s Digest. She has also been a guest speaker at many events including the USPTO Women’s Symposium, several AIPF Annual Meetings, and multiple law schools across the country.

Renée acquired her Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from the Pennsylvania State University and has Master of Business Administration, with a focus on e-commerce and Internet marketing.

Click to contact Renee via e-mail.

Warning & Disclaimer: The pages, articles and comments on IPWatchdog.com do not constitute legal advice, nor do they create any attorney-client relationship. The articles published express the personal opinion and views of the author as of the time of publication and should not be attributed to the author’s employer, clients or the sponsors of IPWatchdog.com. Read more.

Discuss this

There are currently 10 Comments comments.

  1. Bobby October 16, 2011 5:11 pm

    I’d say a couple of factors come into play. Perhaps the most important would be that Macs are a less and less significant portion of Apple’s income these days. They also may have reached the point where the ads are not bringing in significant amounts of customers anymore, as the majority of the public already gets the message they are sending.

    Another element may have been Microsoft’s own “I’m a PC” ads, the first of which started off with ‘I’m a PC, and I’ve been made into a stereotype.” It then proceeds to show that ‘PCs’ are you and me, and from all walks of life.

  2. Chuck October 17, 2011 8:23 am

    Agree with Bobby. The highly competitive markets for smartphones and tablets are where the action is, not the PC market. It’s in Apple’s interest to build market share and brand loyalty in smartphones and tablets as quickly as possible — and that requires advertising dollars. To some extent, Apple brand loyalty will carry over into the Mac vs PC war; that is, Apple can upsell Macs to iPhone and iPad buyers.

  3. Roland October 17, 2011 10:23 am

    Looking back with the benefit of hindsight, what gets me is just how dated the ‘Get a Mac’ ads are (although I’ve only viewed the first one) and how much they focus on specific user groups, particularly when compared to the Microsoft “I’m a PC” ads.

    To me T-Mobile seems to have taken both ad’s further and put a European twist on things!
    It should be remembered that T-Mobiles main market (particularly in Europe) has been younger users. Hence this ad targets this user group very well.

    Your observations raise an interesting question as to whether we will see ad formats being protected in the same way as show formats such as X-Factor, The Apprentice etc.
    I suppose given the vigour with which Apple are pursuing design infringement court cases and the level of detail the claims are going down too, we’ll soon find out if Apple decide that the T-Mobile ad’s are too close to their brand.

    As for patents, surely the ad campaign would be a business method patent? could the ad itself qualify for a design patented?.

  4. Sean October 17, 2011 11:53 am

    There’s a lot of truth to what the prior commenters have written. What it boils down to, I think, is that PCs and MS are not perceived as a threat by Apple any longer when it comes to Apple’s revenue streams. Their high-margin producs are iphones and ipads, and content through itunes. Once they get you in the door, they can sell you the imac or the macbook. They don’t need to fight to sell the imac or macbook head-to-head with PCs and MS.

  5. Kevin October 20, 2011 2:14 pm

    I had always thought it was Bill Gates and Steve Jobs who were being depicted by Hodgeman and Long, respectively. If this is not the case, Long could have gotten a haircut and Hodgeman didn’t have to wear Gates-style nerd glasses. Even if it was just subtle suggestion or inadvertant mockery, I think perceived impersonations can get messy no matter what light the characters are portrayed in–meaning: maybe even Mr. Jobs personally had enough.

    BTW, Virgin recently spoofed T-Mobile’s TV ads very directly. I think this should show it:
    http://mashable.com/2011/08/08/virgin-mobile-ad-t-mobile/

  6. Renee C. Quinn October 20, 2011 9:15 pm

    Bobby,

    Thank you for taking the time to read my post and comment. I agree. It’s obvious that computers is not where it’s at. The point was the marketing strategy itself was contagious. They could have employed a similar tactic for the smartphone and tablet industry. Instead T-Mobile decided to pick up where Apple left off. They were fun though!

    Renee

  7. Renee C. Quinn October 20, 2011 9:27 pm

    Chuck,

    Thank you for reading and for commenting. When I am at networking functions and business affairs, majority of those with smart-phones and tablets are carrying iPhones and iPads. I would say that Apple does have a significant share of the market for both. In fact majority of the tablet market share is held by Apple at about 73.4% of the tablet market share. And in smart phones they hold about 27.3% of the market share. But again, the article was more of a rhetorical question and primarily focused on T-Mobile jumping on the Mac Vs PC bandwagon.

    Thanks again.

    Renee

  8. Renee C. Quinn October 21, 2011 3:08 pm

    Roland,

    Thank you for taking the time to read IPWatchdog and comment. You make a point I, not being an attorney, never thought of. I would think though that since T-Mobile has been running their ads for a year now with no recourse, Apple has no intention to sue. I personally had not known about the I’m a PC ads that Microsoft put out. They did not seem to come up during my TV watching time. You’re right though, they are definitely going after a younger crowd.

    Renee

  9. Renee C. Quinn October 21, 2011 3:13 pm

    Sean,

    Thank you fr your comment and for reading IPWatchdog. I agree with all of the comments above. There comes a time when the ad campaign dollars need to be moved to bigger and better things. I just found it quite ironic that T-Mobile decided to follow in those footsteps. They obviously got the advertising genius behind them. Low cost, very memorable, and funny. It would not have made sense for them to keep up with the ads given that they are really trying to grab ahold of the smart phone and tablet market shares. Call me silly, but I really liked them and miss them even more than I miss the original Geico Caveman and the Bud – Wei – Zerrrr frog commercials. LOL

    Renee

  10. Renee C. Quinn October 21, 2011 3:32 pm

    Kevin,

    Thanks for sharing the link. It was an absolute direct mockery of the T-Mobile girl. Now that Roland DOES have a European spin to it for sure!

    Renee