I'm a... Whatever
So, did you think the first two Microsoft ads sucked? Personally, the first one left me spinning in circles, while the second one seemed like a remake of Un Chien Andalou set in suburbia. But with the latest phase of this campaign, we seem to be on firmer ground.
Let me get this out the way up front: I have five Windows systems here, two running XP and three Vista, and I've been using mostly Windows in a graphics and publishing environment since the runtime version of Windows that was attached to PageMaker back in the 80s. Like so many things, my use of Windows is a historical accident: you know, like the person you marry, the career you have, that kind of thing. You make up a story about it afterwards but life is pretty much a series of accidents. However, before Mac people jump all over me, I should point out that I was also the editor in chief for many years of a national publication devoted to electronic publishing, and thanks to that spent more than a few late nights on deadline tweaking layouts on Macs running QuarkXPress. Mac or PC, whatever, is my take on the platform debate.
Having said that, I haven't been all that thrilled with the endless Mac ads poking fun at Windows users. Is it really that cool to ridicule people by misrepresenting the operating system they use? Gee, isn't attacking people through the use of half-truths and stereotypes one of the things that is currently being decried in the current American elections? Funny how this kind of thing is okay in some contexts but not others.
So here we are with the first post-Seinfeld ads (whew). The initial one, shown above, starts with a mildly cathartic moment, in which a Microsoft employee does his impression of the PC character in the Mac ads, stating that "I'm a PC and I have been made into a stereotype," before a spectrum of folks, some a bit marginal, proudly proclaim "I'm a PC!"—nothing I plan on doing anytime soon, I can assure you. The second one continues in the same vein, as does the third.
Success or flop? I think it's too soon to say, since the campaign is apparently only in its opening stages. It will be interesting to see it play out. But if you think Microsoft has totally lost it, keep in mind that the agency of record here is Crispin Porter + Bogusky—an agency stuffed with people so smart it hurts. Do you really think the inventors of Subservient Chicken will be unable to change Microsoft's image? If so, I have a Bridge to Nowhere I'd like to sell you.