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New Microsoft ads: powerful blow against Apple or vague populist message?

September 19, 2008 | 12:45 pm

The reviews are in on Microsoft's newest TV ads, which began airing Thursday night.

Taking on Apple's "I'm a Mac. I'm a PC," campaign, in which the PC looks out of touch and clumsy, the Microsoft ads include celebrities such as Eva Longoria and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, plus numerous Microsoft employees and regular people. With the refrain, "I'm a PC," each person adds something about themselves: I'm a PC and I wear glasses. I'm a PC and my name is Roger. The upshot: all kinds of human beings use PCs.

My favorite is writer Deepak Chopra's, "I'm a PC and a human being. Not a human doing. Not a human thinking. A human being."

Maria Russo of Web Scout says the message is too fuzzy, expressing the vague idea that the world is a place of interconnected PCs. Kara Swisher at AllThingsD says the ads are better than the Jerry Seinfeld/Gates ones that aired earlier this month, but they're still a little too it's-a-small-world-after-all. But the ads do succeed in diffusing the elitism of the Apple ads, says Michael Arrington at TechCrunch. Yes, Apple has been outmaneuvered, says Gizmodo.

Microsoft is asking people to make their own video about being a PC, which the company will air on videos in Times Square. Of course, that means there will be some "I'm a Mac" submissions, says Mashable.

The whole campaign of course raises the question: Do people really identify as a PC or a Mac?  Maybe so, if you are a Mac person. But it seems as if PC people (and this is obviously the point of the ad) tend to identify as other things. For example, as someone who wears glasses.

Still, Microsoft's campaign must be working. When was the last time we talked about the Redmond, Wash., software giant so much?

-- Michelle Quinn

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