Wasn’t it fun to read about Apple phoning Microsoft to complain about its ad campaign? The “greatest single phone call” ever to Microsoft, indeed. But check this out: it worked. Microsoft has tweaked the content of the ads.
Well, at least one of them. In the 60-second “Lauren and Sue” spot, Lauren is supposedly on the hunt for a new laptop for under $1,700. In the original version, when she encounters a Mac she pronounces “This Mac is $2,000 and that’s before adding anything.” Her mom Sue then asks “Why would you pay twice the price?” and Lauren ends up buying a $972 Dell machine. It’s easy to tear the ad apart, ridicule its schoolyard spitefulness and expose its half-truths (what about the on-going costs of running a PC? Is Windows really better than OS X? What about the cheapest MacBook? Is Lauren an actress? Does she understand what PC speed really means?) but this advert, and the other Bargain Hunter spots did actually seem to be working for Microsoft.
Until Apple lowered the prices across its range of MacBooks and bumped up the hardware specs that is. And now, like an irritating alpha-personality head cheerleader who finds herself exposed in a lie, Microsoft has subtly tweaked what it’s saying, while still insisting it’s right. The old Lauren and Sue ad has been pulled from youTube and other online sites, and has been replaced by a new one that lacks the price comparison segment. Instead Lauren now says “it seems like you’re paying a lot for the brand.” A Microsoft spokesman had this to say: “We slightly adjusted the ads to reflect the updated pricing of the Mac laptop shown in the TV advertisement…This does not change the focus of the campaign, which is to showcase the value and choice of the PC.”
Oh dear, dear dumb Lauren. What you pay for is what you get, my dear. And poor Microsoft–Apple stole the core argument of this whole campaign from you, and now you’re left sulking behind your pompoms, whining that Macs merely seem expensive, while also pointing out how cool they are. Is this one of the reasons Apple’s sewn up the high-end PC market, why its profits are soaring and yours are falling?
Maybe MS should really put out ads like this one: