The new Microsoft commercial starts with a John Hodgman dressalike (You can’t really call him a lookalike, but at the distance the camera is at it doesn’t matter) saying “I’m a PC and I’ve been stereotyped.” It then goes to various people asserting they’re a PC. It’s interesting at first, but after a few seconds you realize: This is all Microsoft’s got for this commercial. After a minute of droning, the commercial blissfully comes to an end.
It makes slightly more sense than the Gates & Seinfeld commercials, but replaces the quirkiness of those ads with banality.
The commercial shows Microsoft doesn’t get the concept behind Apple’s “Get a Mac” ads. Hodgman is not the personification of Windows, and Justin Long is no the personification of Mac. Hodgman is a PC, like he says. Long is a Mac, like he says.
What does that mean? Well, it means that the difference between Long and Hodgman is the ability to run Mac OS X. Long can, and Hodgman can’t. PC’s secret motivation — an undercurrent running through all the commercials that Apple will never vocalize — is that he’s jealous. He knows he can do all the things a PC can do. He wants to do all the things a Mac can do, too. His motives, then, are minimizing the value of Mac OS X: It isn’t really that simple. It isn’t really that easy. You don’t really need that, you can do it without a Mac.
But PC doesn’t really believe it. He knows he can do everything Mac can do. He just also knows he can’t do it as easily. So the secret behind the motivation he won’t state is this: He wants to run Mac OS X, too. And Apple will never vocalize this, because it inspires the question to the masses: Why can’t PC run Mac OS X? ((Sure, there’s lots of good reasons. I’m not denying that. I’m also not denying they are probably all solvable. I’m just pointing out that Apple doesn’t really want people choosing between a Mac and a PC to ask the question, but just to take it for granted.))
So Microsoft runs this ad, showing all the things PC can do. Great. Each one of them is something Mac can do, too.
Microsoft needs to focus on promoting their product, not someone else’s product. And Microsoft does not sell generic PCs. But what does Microsoft sell, really? What are they going to brag about on Windows? Why do they need to?
Every time Microsoft puts out a commercial, they blink. And they don’t have to at this point.