Unless, of course, someone were to just give me one for free.
Slate magazine’s Seth Stevenson write an article about the latest round of Mac adverts in which he chided them as being mean-spirited. If you haven’t seen the ads yet they feature a couple of guys standing in a white room one of whom is kinda dumpy looking and one who looks like a young hipster. The dumpy guy announces that he’s a PC and the hipster announces that he’s a Mac and they proceed to talk about themselves and end up agreeing that being a Mac is better. Stevenson says the ads don’t work for him in the way they were intended to:
My problem with these ads begins with the casting. As the Mac character, Justin Long (who was in the forgettable movie Dodgeball and the forgettabler TV show Ed) is just the sort of unshaven, hoodie-wearing, hands-in-pockets hipster we’ve always imagined when picturing a Mac enthusiast. He’s perfect. Too perfect. It’s like Apple is parodying its own image while also cementing it. If the idea was to reach out to new types of consumers (the kind who aren’t already evangelizing for Macs), they ought to have used a different type of actor.
Meanwhile, the PC is played by John Hodgman—contributor to The Daily Show and This American Life, host of an amusing lecture series, and all-around dry-wit extraordinaire. Even as he plays the chump in these Apple spots, his humor and likability are evident. (Look at that hilariously perfect pratfall he pulls off in the spot titled “Viruses.”) The ads pose a seemingly obvious question—would you rather be the laid-back young dude or the portly old dweeb?—but I found myself consistently giving the “wrong” answer: I’d much sooner associate myself with Hodgman than with Long.
I have to admit that I have the same reaction to the ads. Dweeby PC guy is the sort of dude I’d hang out with and have a good time bullshitting about all the problems that come with being a PC user in a sort of comrade-in-arms way. Whereas hipster dude is someone I’d sit around and make snarky comments about how he can’t handle a mouse with more than one button and even then they had to make the whole mouse one big button so he could just flail at it to get it to work.
The truth of the matter is I am the dweeby PC guy and I have no desire to be the young hipster dude even if it were possible for me to suddenly become such. I’m also too smart to be convinced that buying a Mac will at least let me pretend to be the young hipster dude and if I’m not fooling me then I know I’m not fooling anyone else. I ain’t that guy and I don’t want to be that guy so the ads have the opposite effect than what Apple probably wanted, they actually make me resent the idea of buying a Mac. Not because I think it’s an inferior machine, but because of the image of the sort of guy that buys a Mac that Apple is promoting. It’s the same reason I’ll probably never own a Lexus or a Cadillac—I’m not that guy.
If Apple really wants to talk PC users into buying a Mac they’d do well to change their ads in a way that would appeal to our sense of reason over our sense of vanity. There are some excellent reasons for owning a Mac and Apple only promotes a couple of them with this new series of ads along with some old canards such as the idea that PCs don’t integrate with digital devices as easily as Macs do (e.g. Japanese cameras) or that out of the box it takes a lot more effort to set up a PC than a Mac (not these days it doesn’t). Using old arguments that any experienced PC user knows are false is only going to convince them that Apple thinks they must be idiots and who wants to buy a computer from a company that assumes he’s an idiot?