You are now entering Ad Space, a realm of commercials, brought before us so we might examine how they work, and discuss why we both love and hate them so. So it is written …
Macs are better than PCs … okay, yes, Macs are a kind of PC, but we like to pretend we’re special.
I’m curious whether this ad helped or hurt Apple (or had no effect at all).
According to Wikipedia, Mac sales increased after this ad campaign was launched, but whether that’s because of the ads, or because of other market forces happening at the same time … that’s not something you can get hard data on.
The reason I wonder about these particular ads’ effectiveness is that I can easily imagine them having the reverse of the intended effect. They’re meant to show Macs as being easy to use with no major issues, personified by a laid-back Justin Long. Non-Mac PCs, meanwhile, are shown as being stuffy and riddled with problems they’re desperate to bluster over, personified by an uptight John Hodgman.
Thing is, in these ads … PC is sort of lovable. He may not inspire confidence, but he is clearly trying his best, with a very adorkable energy to him. Plus, while they may be at his expense, he does get all the jokes; he’s the one making viewers laugh. Mac, meanwhile, is the straight man, just standing there being ordinary so PC can play off him and steal the show.
The ads may be saying that Macs have their act together, unlike their competitors, but if (as ads are wont to do) they’re trying to build an emotional connection between the audience and their product … I feel like most people would walk away from these with a more positive bond to PC instead of to Mac.
Fun side note: there were different versions of this ad campaign in different countries. Check out the UK version, starring comedy duo Mitchell & Webb: