Sep 23, 2008

"Have To" vs. "Choose To"

There's been a lot of discussion on the blogosphere about the new Microsoft "I'm a PC" campaign from Crispin, Porter & Bogusky.

Only the one thing I haven't seen brought up is the one thing I see as the core difference between the two: People often have to use a PC. Whereas they almost always choose to use a Mac.

Have to versus Choose to. It's an interesting paradigm. And having to use a PC can entail any number of reasons: it may be the platform your employer uses. Or it may be that you find Macs to be overpriced.

So, for me, the benefit of the new campaign is that it tells all those people who have to use a PC that they are not alone, that they are not dorks for having to use one and that in fact, lots of other cool people have to use one too.

Now how that plays out really depends on your psyche. There's the danger you could hear it as your mom pointing out all the other kids whose parents didn't get them the $120 sneakers. But I suspect that people who hear that will go over to the Mac side as soon as they are able. The ones who hear it as validation of their current situation and relative level of satisfaction with PCs are the campaign's sweet spot and it's likely to have a positive effect on them.

Most of the noise in the ad blogosphere has been against this campaign, partly as Dave Knox points out, due to a certain type of NASCAR Blindness that prevents them from believing that anyone sane could actually prefer to use a PC. It also stems from the fact that the campaign is a bit of a formula: many brands have done the whole "interesting people around the world are using our product" campaign.

And while the old One Show snob in me is nodding his head vigorously at this, the truth is that consumers don't pay as much attention to advertising as we do. So none of them really remember the (very similar) Cisco campaign that ran about 4-5 years ago. And if they do, they're not really bothered by the repetition.

I'm very curious to see where the campaign goes next: will they offer reasons why people use PCs? Or will they just leave it at "I use one" and let new, cake-like, post-Vista innovations answer the "why" part.

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